Awake at 3 a.m., two weeks before she graduates from high school

Awake at 3 a.m., two weeks before she graduates from high school

From the day they were born, you held them close. Gathered them in, dried their tears, snuggled them to sleep, watched them breathe. Everything was new, and everything was teaching. This is broccoli, you said, as their delighted toothless mouths tried to chew for the first time. That is a bird. Here is pink. This is soft, as you brushed their cheek with a finger. They wrapped their tiny fists around your index fingers and pulled themselves to standing in…

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Sleeping weather

Sleeping weather

Lazing in bed this morning — I’d like to tell you I was reading a novel, but I was actually playing word games on my phone because I may be a nerd, but I’m a 21st-century nerd — I thought “someone should write an essay about sleeping weather.” By the time I’d grabbed my favorite summer sweater (blue-and-white stripes, loosely woven, slightly oversized) and poured coffee, I’d decided it might as well be me. I think of this garment as…

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Devil’s Food Experiments

Devil’s Food Experiments

For our Century of Cakes, we’re in the first decade of the twentieth century this weekend. My children refer to this as “the 1900s” — a phrase that implies the whole century is Olde Time history, which I suppose might be reasonable when applied to the fin-de-siècle confection devil’s food cake, but feels more than a little cutting when applied to my own birth, way back in that ancient time that might as well be a whole century ago. In…

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A Century of Cakes Starts with Angel Food

A Century of Cakes Starts with Angel Food

Ever since I came across a list of the most popular cakes in the U.S. by decade, my daughter and I have wanted to bake our way through them. This weekend, the project is finally starting. First up: the late-nineteenth-century darling of picnics and invalid supper-trays: Angel Food Cake. This cake gets its name from its astonishingly white crumb — which gets its whiteness from the fact that it is made with only egg whites, sugar, flour, cream of tartar,…

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Clap-bread; or, baking towards a sense of peace

Clap-bread; or, baking towards a sense of peace

All weekend, I’ve been baking and making — helping my daughter cut out and assemble the sloper for the prom dress she wants to make all by herself, so we can check the fit before cutting into the good fabric. We have trays full of small cream puff shells cooling, with the idea that this will be dinner, filled with savory shrimp filling, and dessert, filled with coffee and vanilla ice creams and drizzled with chocolate sauce. And we’ve tried…

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Inhabiting a female body

Inhabiting a female body

Yesterday afternoon, my WALK was asked to smile more. I was in my neighborhood, heading on foot to my son’s baseball game, when a car slowed as it approached me from behind, sidled up to the curb, and the driver called out to me through the passenger window he’d rolled down. “Excuse me, miss.” (I am 52 years old.) “I couldn’t help but notice you walk very fast.” He smiled. He was missing several teeth. He sat there, expectant, had…

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Tiny dramas

Tiny dramas

Taking a morning round through a garden is one of the small, perfect pleasures in life. It is a ritual that feels more necessary than ever, this spring, as balm in a deeply pained world. Just last week, I began again to carry my coffee onto the back porch—mug warming my hands as I peered over the railings—and then to wander in search of tiny unfurling plants. It is still not quite warm enough in Minnesota to rake out the…

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Rain. August 2021.

Rain. August 2021.

I wrote this in the summer, and then I held it close. I’m not sure why. Possibly because the thought of watching my first-born gear up to apply for colleges was a feeling of chapter-closing that I was unprepared to share. But I reread it today, and I realize that it is also a kind of chapter-opening. As we are all dealing with so much loss, we are also moving forward, sometimes imperceptibly. It’s important to sit with the bittersweet…

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Sticky figgy pudding

Sticky figgy pudding

May I recommend baking to add happiness to your weekend? I KNOW! Two years into our pandemic, and I’m the first person to think of this?!? It’s stunning, really. But more particularly, may I recommend this incredibly easy Sticky Figgy Pudding recipe, into which you can substitute any kind of dried fruit you prefer, reconstituting it with any kind of hot liquid you prefer (e.g. boiling water spiked with something boozy), and whose sauce can be made with light or…

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Deep feelings for small longings

Deep feelings for small longings

Do you remember LifeSavers storybooks? I received this as a Secret Santa present once in the mid- or late-1970s and could hardly believe my good fortune. Twelve rolls of candy. All mine. Twelve flavors. Each better than the next. I remember savoring the feeling of a single disk melting slowly on my tongue, delighting in the new flavors to explore..the wild cherry both tart and sweet, the wint-O-green startlingly cold, the butter rum simply perfect. I longed for another storybook…

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