Maybe it’s this time of year. The grey of March has drained me. The
bulky sweaters and heavy wool coats have flattened my existence,
leaving me a cardboard cutout of myself. I feel like a paperdoll, no
ideas in my head. Routine keeps me going, moving forward.
Days like this we all need propping up. Friends, family, neighbors and
loved ones who support us, lift us up and hold our hands tight.
I often turn to my Gram when I need solace; she’s been gone many years
but I still hold her close. When I drive home at night, weary from the
day I tell her my thoughts. When I hang the clothes outside I hope she
would be proud that I continue to honor her traditions. Nothing smells
as fresh as sheets dried on the line. I know this.
I feel closest to her in the kitchen. I think it is because of her I
prefer to bake in times of stress and chaos, as if those movements
were ingrained in my muscle memory. The rolling out of dough, the
crimping of a crust; the chopping, flipping, and turning parts into a
whole—these are my inheritance. The very act of reading the recipe and
assembling the ingredients comforts me; working the dough with my
fingers soothes the jagged edges of whatever crisis has threatened to
overtake us. (Just now I spilled hot cocoa over the laptop. How
typical. I am intimate with unforeseen obstacles.)
All my life I wanted to be like her. The way she could devote days of
her life to baking, her kindness toward strangers and her need to be
barefoot for most of the year as she endured the scoldings of her
sons. Shoes were a nuisance and she never put up with things that
annoyed her. It’s hard to distill a life, but these acts are what I
It seems that annoyances are everywhere, the least of which is
Spring’s reluctance to make an appearance. And still I do my best to
get through the days. I look for inspiration in unexpected places. I
think of writing. I try not to get discouraged when my camera doesn’t
seem to cure what is ailing me.
I ponder the future and what it holds. My fondest wish is to grow old
like my Gram. I want to bake a peach pie and proclaim it delicious. I
imagine myself with grandchildren of my own, marveling as I peel the
skin from an apple in one long piece. I want to cover their little
fingers in mine as they hold onto a pencil, guiding them through the
downward swoop of a capital R. I want to use my strong arms to push
them on a swing, and later feel their pudgy embrace around my neck.
And when language leaves me, I trust our fingers will find each other;
coarse and smooth entwined. I want them to know love is enduring, my
But those days are far off. Today while the fat snowflakes fell and
the cocoa warmed on the stove, with the promise of popcorn to be eaten
in the evening still lingering—I wrote this.