I’ve got cold milk and cold butter ready. The snow outside is icy black as a tire and tired as the summer gets from leaning on my arms until they’re drooping in their sockets, resigned to salt and sweat.
And there’s salt now, too, outside in the cold: the kind that greases my boots with muddled streaks and strokes the sidewalk with little white freckles. I’ve got a deep glass bowl in which I’ve piled the usual suspects: some white flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder.
Waking up morning after morning to an island of ice and dirty snow that looks like it will never shrink into the rearview, I’ve pinched a small green shoot from the lobby shrub and set that little stem in a jar of water, waiting for roots to descend and render life anew. It will take weeks, but once the little pale knob of a root pokes its face out of the stem, profusion.
When making scones, I am acutely aware of that yeasty smell of flour, blooming as it thickens and clumps when cream is added. It’s a scent that endears all of my senses and that gluttonous unrelenting frizzy little girl in me perks, she is so easily overwhelmed by the sight of bounty.
There was, for example, those dozens of glazed doughnuts she brought to her fourth grade class for her birthday. Uninhibited until this point in her life, she shows no resistance to helping herself to the leftovers as she makes her way up flight after flight of the school staircase after staircase, making suitcases of her cheeks with a caky doughnut at each landing, until nothing is left.
Finally, reaching her father’s classroom, where he teaches older kids how to use paint and how to make life-scapes with paintbrushes held properly and fearlessly, the little frizzy girl holds out the empty box, scattered with glaze shards. She has no more doughnuts left to give, and her father, the teacher of how to make art out of life, is forgiving. My mouth was full of sweet then, and I had no taste yet for bitter things.