Horse search turns up lightened spirit, cookies
Many years ago on a grey, drizzly early December day, I drove somewhere in Knox County to buy a horse. Thinking a horse might lift my dreary spirits, I answered an ad, knocked on the door of a small frame house in the midst of a decidedly unkempt farmstead, one I had concluded could not house a horse I would want!
A plump middle-aged woman answered, inviting me in. She apologized for the kitchen’s disarray and what a pastiche of disorder it was! The hurly-burly of baking consisted of abandoned egg shells fallen on the floor, dirty pots and pans piled in the sink and a myriad of cookie sheets lining what was left of a counter. An oven door stood open to both take out and put in trays of cookies.
Smells of burnt sugar, lemon zest, ginger, vanilla hung in the room. The massive collection of color and design contrasted with the outside sameness and turned me upside down. Suddenly I was there not to buy a horse in hopes of change, but rather, to remain in the center of a grand old tradition of baking Christmas cookies.
Inside that kitchen filled with shape, color, motion, against a sodden and heavy-leaden outside world lit up both sides. Her intense point of purpose was to create abundance, beauty, satiation through her cookies to share with that unhappy world on the other side of the fogged window. Her kitchen glowed with sweet activity meant to feed others more than a quick bite; she moved from project to project oblivious of her own presence in all this activity. She was included, not excluded from Christmas, as were all those whose lives she would later change with her gifts stacked on a paper plate delivered to a neighbor’s back door or to a friend in the hospital or to a people gathered on Christmas Eve.
I left not with a horse but a pile of cookies and a lightened spirit. While a horse might have been a distraction, this lady’s Christmas kitchen was meant to endure.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.