Molasses Cookies

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We began baking at 6:00 this morning. A double-batch of chocolate chip cookies, and then molasses cookies. The molasses are tricky. The recipe is from my grandmother’s original handwritten recipe, an ingredient list with measurements and oven temp. No instructions. But bright memories. She would always let me lick the molasses-coated spoon. The recipe is so sensitive, you have only to be in an off mood to botch the batch. So this morning’s achievement, that perfect crackle, the smell of cinnamon and ginger and cloves, was like my grandmother arriving in my kitchen. Her calm-busy-gentle essence filling the room as I roll the dough into little balls and cover them in sugar.

For the first time in years, we’re spending Thanksgiving at home. The week is bookended with travel–our trip on Monday, and then my husband’s trip to London on Sunday–so we decided to stay local. It feels so peaceful and relaxing to be home for the holiday. Tomorrow we’ll wake up with a morning fire, watch the Macy’s Day Parade, and bake the apple pie. Maybe I’ll even get some writing done.

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(Post 308 of 365)

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Natural Rhythms: 49/365

This morning Isabella woke early. I reached for my phone and turned it on to check the time. She began to nurse and I instantly succumb to scrolling, first the weather, then I’ll move on to pages of unread articles. Except this morning our internet was down. So I put my phone down. I basked in the quiet and looked at my little girl’s face.

Soon we were bouncing out of bed and starting the coffee and scooping plain yogurt and frozen blueberries onto a plate, sprinkling cinnamon on her yogurt. Sentences are already springing from my brain. I silently repeat a couple of ideas like mini mantras in an effort not to forget them. Normally I would steal a few minutes at the computer while she eats her breakfast, the two of us occupying the same table, together but apart.

Today the computer wasn’t an option. So I got my mug of coffee and sat down next to her while she ate, watched her pinch fat blueberries between her tiny fingers and deftly spoon yogurt into her little heart-shaped mouth. We chatted contentedly. She fed me blueberries, saying, “here you go, honey, you eat it.” Amidst the chatting and blueberry-sharing I reached for a pen and managed to fill up one page, catching the ideas I didn’t want to lose.

Technology runs insidious interference on our lives, seeps into every quiet gap creating a low and steady buzz. White noise, like the whir of a fan. I have a thing about white noise, especially the sound of a fan. It makes me tense and itchy. If a fan’s been running and then finally turned off, it’s the biggest relief. That’s how this morning felt. No interference. I was able to hear the natural rhythm of the morning and we moved to it in sync. I even got a little writing done.

Wild Geese: 28/365

Tonight a poem, well known and beloved. Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. I keep this one on the side of my fridge. I love poetry. I love to hand copy poems, slow it down, become intimate with each word. There’s something sacred about it.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the

desert, repenting.

My whole body exhales. Relief. Guilt runs deep and thick in my Irish Catholic family. I feel it in the marrow of my bones. Just recently I realized that part of what this project is is claiming myself. Maybe that’s what the whole thing is about. And as I claim myself, I release guilt.

You only have to let the soft animal of

your body

love what it loves.

Yes. Motherhood has taught me that.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will

tell you mine.

This is why we write. And why we read. And how we love.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear

pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the

clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Amen.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your

imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh

and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Doesn’t she just leave you breathless and peaceful?

Treehugger: 24/365

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Somewhere in the Redwood Forest almost twenty years ago, before skinny jeans and iPhones, when you could actually go off grid and become totally unreachable.

I believe in the beauty and power of nature. The energy of trees and plants. In the woods there is healing, a peace that restores and brings us closer to our selves.

 

Snow: 4/365

It’s finally here, the first real snow, a blizzard with big wind gusts and swirling flakes. Drifts on the front porch. The mute grey sky. Cats curled up. Baby napping. Chris clapping out wood and re-stacking the pile. I got the fire going again. Crackle, hiss.

I love the peacefulness of snow, the way it makes everything quiet. No cars, no sounds. That tucked-in, hunkered-down feeling. It throws a blanket over everything, even the chatter of anxiety, my frequent companion.

That’s something I’ve realized about this daily practice. Just four days in, and it’s already redirecting my thoughts. It forces focus. It quiets the swirl of rumination. It brings peacefulness too.