Hanna made a cake for everyone for monkey man’s and gorilla girl’s birthdays. The recipe came from the Sesame Street Cookbook (purchased by Mairead and Hanna for a Christmas present last year). One of gorilla girl’s greatest pleasures is paging through the book deciding which things look delicious and which ones we have “ingredinents” for. It usually doesn’t progress much from there because I am not one for baking. However, Hanna is a younger, more cynically witted, and definitely more hip version of Martha Stewart. When it comes to various family celebrations, she is the one I call. She did Tet cupcakes last year, birthday cupcakes for gorilla girl and monkey man’s school party this year, and now, this astounding chocolate cake with “frinkles” for birthday times two. I keep telling gorilla girl that she has to say the “s” in sprinkles, but she just giggles and holds her hands over her mouth when I repeat back to her, “Frinkles, Frinkles, what are frinkles? You mean SSSSSprinkles?”
Hanna loves cooking in our Michigan kitchen. The stove and oven rock; even I can recognize it and pretty much all I do is boil water on that stove. Oh, and did I mention that Hanna also made apple pancakes for the birthday breakfast? Yeah, it was quite a feast on Sunday.
One of the best moments of the weekend was watching Hanna and gorilla girl in the kitchen, gorilla girl licking the chocolate covered spoon, while Hanna ambled around in her stripy apron, measuring and pouring. The back door to the porch was open, and Alex messing with tools, repaired bikes on the porch (I love that Alex commits to these little fix it projects). Monkey man was shuttling back and forth between places with his Thomas the Train sand bucket. I think Ed had just finished his run. It was one of those moments when everything seems just right, just as it should be. It also happened to be a perfect fall day. Warm sunshine, a soft breeze, the rusty red and amber fall colors, and the pungent aroma of wood burning.
While the baking extravaganza was going on in the kitchen, monkey man and I crunched leaves in the yard. Monkey man said, “Let’s collect leaves. Look, here is a maple leaf, from that maple tree.” He is four, and he was pointing correctly, to a maple tree. Who taught him this? Hanna claims it is the TV show, Caillou, a PBS show, produced in Canada. She thinks it is Canadian propaganda. At any rate, someone pointed out to him what a maple leaf looks like and now he will know forever, because that is just how he is.
It was so perfect that the worries of work and bills, of doctor appointments and papers to grade, all melted into the warmth of the sunshine and aroma of sweet chocolate baking in the kitchen. I wished life could be like this more often. Of course, place has something to do with the feeling of contentment, but it is more than place. It is how we are together in that place, how the place makes us more tranquil and how we, in turn, ease into the moment.