Recipes for Love

Ever holiday I find myself seated at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sifting through a drawer of recipes. The search is as much for family recipes as it is for memories. It doesn’t take long before I find them both.

Before my Mom and Aunties passed they gifted me a few of their kitchen secrets and well-used kitchen items. There’s Busha’s (Grandma’s) hand-forged, three pronged fork. The stubby handle fits perfectly in the palm of a hand when cutting in shortening. Busha cooked on a woodstove. Any meal was a laborious monumental task. I don’t think the stove was ever cold to the touch.

I treasure Mom’s solid wood rolling pin and flour sack towels. Mom always rolled out her dough on a well floured flour sack. Thin from two generations of washings, I handle them with extreme care and use them exclusively for rolling out dough. To find one of Mom’s recipes with actual conventional measurement is not the norm. Her measurements were by feel or taste. It’s probably why Mom would call me up to come over and “watch” her make something. She would often tell me, “I’m not going to live forever. If you want to learn how to make this keep watching.” I’m glad I did so her love can nourish the next generation.

There’s Auntie Anna’s substantially cracked and chipped blue speckled enamelware pan. It must have been a favorite based on its condition. I’m so happy she held on to it and passed it on to me. Believe it or not nothing ever sticks to that pan! Auntie Anna’s cooking instructions were loud, clear and concise. Her stern direction carried over from her many years running the kitchen for the local church’s annual picnic.

Then there’s Auntie Rosie’s titanic sized cast iron frying pan. In her later years, arthritis prevented her from lifting the heavy weight. The pan than became a permanent fixture on her stove-top. Cleanup was a wipe or two with a paper towel. Still is.

I can’t forget Auntie Vickey’s delectable dessert recipes. The handwritten recipes have yellowed with age. Torn edges of the fragile paper taped together several times. The tape too has yellowed. A busy farmer’s wife, Auntie Vickey’s countertops and kitchen table held much of the overflow from her cupboards. She could make a meal fit for king in minutes!

If you haven’t guessed, I am descended from a long line of amazing Polish women that knew their way around a kitchen. Ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a  wooden spoon in my hand, they pressed me into service at some task that was age appropriate. Any gathering of the family cooks ended with a meal. Crumbs on the table were never casually wiped to the floor. Licked fingers firmly pressed the bits against the tabletop. The finger with moist crumbs attached was promptly licked clean. Ever last crumb of life’s deliciousness was savored.

The strong Polish women in my life grew up in a generation that didn’t say, “I love you,” out loud very often, if ever. Words of love may have not been shared but what they did share was the recipe’s to taste it. What else could be created in the heart of the home—the kitchen—but love?

Give and Thank

I am grateful for you!

Expressions of gratitude tap into a deep down internal force that instantaneously shifts negative energy into positive power. Having a daily gratitude practice is a wonderful way to find a positive path on any journey you are on. As they say; Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.

Make ever day a happy day of giving thanks!

Divine Hands

Mild temperatures gave my husband and I an opportunity to check on our beehives. For the most part, we leave the bees be; only interrupting the hum of the hive when necessary. On this occasion, we wanted to remove mite medicine placed in the hive a week earlier. We felt fortunate that only two out of the four hives had mite counts high enough to warrant treatment.

As we approached the hive we could see the bees were very active and agitated. On closer inspection, it was obvious something had removed the entrance reducer, possibly a skunk or a raccoon. Wasps were trying to enter the hive and raid the hive’s winter stores of honey. Guard bees were protecting the entrance but the large opening was giving the wasps an advantage. Once we replaced the entrance reducer the bee’s demeanor quickly calmed. Our human help must have seemed like divine intervention to the bees.

As we watched the bees come and go, we noticed that some were bringing in pollen. I was astonished to see them collecting pollen in November but there it was! The robust yellow-orange bundles clinging to their hind legs was hard to miss. It felt as if a much greater hand was working with ours to help the bees help themselves survive the winter.

Helping…no matter who or what or how much…creates connection. We energetically weave another strand into the web of life, strengthening humanity. You know there is sacredness in the act of helping. You feel the intervention of divinity stir in your heart and spirit. We lend our hands to the Divine when we intervene on behalf of the helpless.

Note: In the featured photo you can see the pollen clinging to back leg of the bee in flight.

Let Go of the Rain

In the circle of seasons fall is a restless spirit. These deep months of autumn are one last raucous hurrah before the weather turns the somber corner towards winter’s reverent quiet. Radiant wild leaves that moments earlier burned the sky’s blue, float like embers from a forest aflame. The confetti-colored earth is a sign that winter’s wait is ending. Summer’s party is over.

Chilly north winds usher in a steady stream of grey clouds heavy with rain. For days the dampness soaks deep down into the bones of the land.  An earthy scent lingers in the air like the perfumed smoke of incense. There is nothing like that smell to freshen ones state of mind. All it washes over is cleansed and purified for the coming journey inward to connect with self.

Seasonal transitions can be unsettling. They are raw elemental movement measurable in the mindfulness I keep on my mood. Nature is forcing us to face our feelings. In my way of thinking, her influence on our mind isn’t to bring our spirits down as much as it is for us to find ways to raise them up.

Each fall is unique. This year the rain has been persistent and significant. For the most part I’ve been able to keep a sunny disposition despite the seemingly endless string of gloomy grey days. Making monstrous kettles of homemade soup is a delicious way to shine a soul or two… or ten.

This fall taught me…

When you can’t hold the heaviness of dark clouds any longer let go of the rain.

Heart of Pine

As a child I would steal away time from my farm chores to play among the white pines that grew wide and tall next to our land. They grew best in the coarse, sandy, well-drained soils on the top of small hills. On windy days the sway of the boughs motioned to me like the repeated curl of an index finger beckoning closer. This time of play among the peaceful pines strengthened my spirits gentleness. Many people wish for a heart of oak but I long for a heart of pine.

Nothing escapes pine’s restful rapture. In their company the spirit wanders free and easy. Whose soul isn’t soothed by the faintest tang of pine scent? Gazing at the whorl of branches rise and fall my consciousness slides effortlessly into the flow of creation. In the gentle whisper of the pine, listen for the silence. You will hear things.

Many people wish for a heart of oak but I long for a heart of pine.

MrsbusdriverladyAngie

Every year the school year begins with a new crop of little ones on my school bus—4Ker’s. They are four-year-old kindergartners filled with fear, excitement and every emotion in between. We are into the second week of school here in Wisconsin. I am beginning to see their individual personality’s blossom. There is nothing like a new clutch of four-year-olds to teach the virtues of a good sense of humor.

Usually I tell the little ones to call me, Ms. Angie or Angie. This year I have a sweet little 4K boy that insists on addressing me as, MrsbusdriverladyAngie. He is bursting with questions about the in’s and out’s of riding on a school bus. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hear them because our conversations go something like this…

4K Boy: “Mrsbus…..driver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriverlady?”

Me: “What do you need Hun?”

4K Boy: “I forgot your name.”

Me: “Angie”

4K Boy: “MrsbusdriverladyAngie.”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “I forgot my question?”

Repeat conversation every 5-10 minutes until you reach the school.

I thought he would tire of the long winded introduction by now but he shows no signs of shortening the preface to my name. He is a bright colored blossom!  It is with great honor and dignity that I have decided to accept the title of MrsbusdriverladyAngie bestowed upon me by a gusty four-year-old. Life is so much easier with a good sense of humor. When life tickles you don’t hold back the laugh.

“A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.” ~ William James

Garden Queen

Summer’s youth wanes,
each day riper with fullness,
Phlox’s bright eyes open wide.

A delightfully lovely fragrance,
once cradled in her bosomy blooms,
now billows gently in the breeze.

Hot pink petals aflame,
devour the green scenery,
burning off the heat’s heaviness.

A Sphinx Moth visits,
humming above nectar filled flowers,
long tongues dip into wells of sweetness.

The cool of the evening,
invites me back for a visit.
I sit enchanted by the tall aristocratic beauty.

Phlox, you are the queen of my garden empire.
I bow to you.