Circles and cycles. Bud and bloom. Belief and doubt. Celebration and grief.
Move inward, out. Outward, in.
Still. Sacred. Spiritual.
A revolution, a resolution, a plan, a path, a prayer.
Start here. Or there.
No destination in mind or notice of arrival. Back where I began, here I am returned. Again. Both renewed and changed by the experience of the walk itself, a guarantee that no matter how familiar the path, I am in fact a different person than I was the last time I walked it.
Spring too, here again. Another spin around for both of us. So familiar, but so new and ever hopeful. Both transformed and transforming.
From the one to the many. From the many to the one.
I welcome you to the comfort of my kitchen. I’m warming the oven – and myself – after a long, dark, cold January. I’m baking today. Seven cabinet doors flung wide from the gathering of ingredients and tools and bowls. Evidence I was here. Cookie dough spins in the mixer and the sun just arrived … at 6:58 … same time as last year on this day. (I checked.)
I smile to think of who I am this February compared to last. At 6:58 or any other time. And then I think, how nice it is to smile about such as that, about me as I am. Yes, February, I’ve added the right ingredients: plenty of rest, drinking my water, moving my body, reading lovely books, loving my people as best I can, and of course, hope.
Hope was a little harder to find last February. Maybe sometimes hope is tucked away in the back of the cabinet, behind the molasses, just waiting for me to pull it out, dust it off, and share it with others. Hope, like the cookies I’m baking today, is meant to be shared. And February, you with your earlier sunrises and later sunsets – give hope. Just when we need it most, I think.
So today I’ll be sharing cookies, February. And if you’d be so kind, please share some hope. In your month of love, remind me to love my neighbors, to offer warmth, to welcome … and accept … everyone.
Open my heart wide, February.
French Love Cakes
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped, roasted pecans
Sifted powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup)
In large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Stir in flour and pecans until combined. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 325 ° oven 20 to 23 minutes until golden. Remove from sheet to cooling rack over parchment paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 30.
-adapted from Country Home Magazine, February 1999
I love commas. And as I writer, I’m prone to the (probably) overuse of ellipses. It’s the pause I’m after. The breath in between thoughts. No full stop like a period, a comma dangles there in my writing and in my mind offering me a moment of rest.
Sometimes, a moment is all I need.
Today deserves a few well-placed commas. Some intentional ellipses. A deep breath in … … and a slow exhale of release.
My wish for you in all of today’s hustle and hurry … is at least one hopeful pause.
Linger in the good graces of a morning, over one more cup of coffee, the pages of a book, and couple-talk punctuated by the clink of spoon against cereal bowl. Linger over the iron’s steam, marveling at the smoothing of wrinkles like the righting of wrongs.
Linger at the door to count blessings and gratitudes and hopes. Linger out in the first, startling cold slap of air. Breathe until wide, wide awake. And ready.
Linger long enough to listen for the gossip of chickens out back and the agitation of blue jays at the feeder. Watch for the indecision of squirrels crossing the road and find grace in the spiral of a wind-blown leaf or the dancing sway of a branch.
Linger over realizations, what you thought you knew, but now know you didn’t. Changes and chances and challenges you should have made or offered or taken. Linger not to heed the whisper of regret.
Instead, linger to remember yesterday’s promises and the hope in today. Reach out for the dreams you lost track of or the hand of someone you miss. Feel for the tug of a memory in a lingering daydream gaze out the window.
Stand certain, like the last geranium bud in the pot on the porch, somehow surviving despite fall, and frost, and the fading of warmth. Tall, strong, and lingering … just a little longer.
At day’s end, linger a few minutes more at the table with friends; admire her smile, his laugh, their warmth on a chilly evening. Watch the light linger as long as it can, understanding you will find light elsewhere these dark nights. Returning to bed, remember the day, knowing you did your best. Linger over thoughts and questions and drowsy ideas.
The light creeps only so far now across the grass out back before dropping below the tree line for the night. The pumpkins are all but ready to pick, and the chickens go to roost earlier and earlier. One last, lone daisy stands sentry alongside their coop.
There’s a certain poignancy in the air, a wistful smell of time gone by and the browning of leaves. A cycle completed, the season’s growing weary, silently drifting toward dormancy. Each tree’s a kaleidoscope with colored confetti puddling at its base. One last hurrah and farewell celebration.
There’s poetry in October. Every year I appreciate it more than I did the year before and the year before that, oohing and aahing in all the appropriate places, of course, but also nestling a bit in its nuance – the just so wisp and flutter of a falling leaf and the cacophony of crows, feeling momentary nostalgia for the passing of another September.
Both inside and out, there’s readying afoot and comfort in routines. Burrows blanketed. Woolens hauled from the attic. Wood stacked. The crockpot looks forward to stews and soups as soon we’ll be slow cooking our way through hibernation. We’re getting sleepy, dozing a bit through the game on Sunday and sleeping just a couple minutes more under heavier blankets.
In the increasing absence of warmth, I time my walk for the late afternoon sun on the road. Even as we’re getting ready to pull the rakes out from the shed, we’re eyeing the snow shovels and windshield scrapers, knowing they’ll get their turn before too long.
Still, there’s decisions to be made: when to rake, how to dress the scarecrow, and what to eat at the fair. Just yesterday, I found a rare chestnut, polishing it on my shirt – evidence there’s both finding and losing in this month of October.
I tucked the chestnut – along with a bit of hope – into my pocket on the way home.
Now that I have more time, I see so many good choices for how to use it. Should I do this? That? The other? Even – nothing at all – is a choice. I can fritter time away with the best of them, and after an initial period of dilly-dallying and lollygagging, I’m living more energetically. I’ve never, ever had so many minutes all to myself, and it’s been a bit of an adjustment. A luxury, to be sure.
Questions I’ve been asking myself: How do I want to feel throughout my day? And especially, at the end of it? What choices will happy me? Fill me with pride? Hope? Wonder? Strength? Purpose? Contentment? Creativity?
It’s now my someday when, so I’ve shifted focus from achievement to enjoyment. I’m delightfully – and perhaps a little selfishly, for now – focused on what I most need or want. And I’m as much guided by what I don’t want as by what I do. I will no longer sacrifice peace of mind for productivity. I’m after whatever choices make me stronger in mind, body, spirit, or relationship.
Once time-crunched, chores have become relaxing pleasures. There’s so much joy to be found in the simplest of tasks: the sweep my hand makes erasing dust from a tabletop, the tuck of a clean sheet, the chop of a fresh vegetable from our garden. Routines are emerging, but slowly, and with a nod to the weather forecast.
The laundry keeps coming, and the bills, and the dishes. But truly, I tell you, what doesn’t get done today will tomorrow – or it won’t, and surprisingly, that’s okay. I work when I’m scheduled, rest when I’m tired, daydream often, walk most mornings, and sometimes simply sit still and listen to all the sounds of summer.