The wind is blowing making the temperature feel like -15 below and expected to drop more tonight. Another 5 inches of snow fell in the evening so we woke to glittering white all around us but deep gray clouds. The deck railing must be almost 10 inches high in the white stuff. It is full on winter here in Minnesota.
The holiday season is close and I know that family will arrive in another day for a evening meal. They will come quickly – we will eat, laugh and share stories for a few hours and then they will be off to other places, other parts of the family and we will be here quietly watching the snow and lights on the tree.
It is the new reality of our lives – grown children with partners, family members who live far away. It leaves us more time with just the two of us. It leaves me at times feeling a bit lonely.
I began my baking with just such a feeling. The calm of the house over taking my thinking and leaving me just a bit melancholy. I began with making pumpkin pie and as I rolled the crust I heard conversations with Ruthie, an old friend and mentor who is long gone, but who gave me my solid wood rolling pin. Rolling the dough and watching the well worn wood grains slide over the dough made me smile.
The measuring spoons, which my Mother gave me when I first set up a kitchen, were pulled from the drawer. Instead of feeling sad I recalled all the baking I did with her as a child – cookies, breads, pies and cakes. The “rules” she had then have made me a decent baker today.
The pie pans look a bit rough but they came from my family farm house that we were closing up last summer. This house is over 100 years old and so the cooking utensils and pans bring the voices of past family members – my Aunts, my Grandmother, again long gone but also the cousins who I see once or so each year.
The rye bread baking later in the morning brought stories to me of my Grandfather who sat at an old kitchen table listening to a small radio eating Swedish rye bread with peanut butter. When I was small I would sit beside him and join in with the mid afternoon snack. Happy to listen to any tale he might be willing to share about the farm.
Yes, I was alone in the kitchen baking but hidden among the kitchen tools, recipes and smells were all my family and friends. It turned into a pleasant morning of memories and I ended up with two pies and 5 small loaves of rye bread to share with people tomorrow as we gather for an early Christmas meal.
It is amazing where you can find friends, voices and stories if you are willing to look. Three Cheers to a quiet Christmas, long gone friends and a bit of home baking!