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Hey there!
Let’s talk about our days…
My study sits on the back side of the house. Out the window in front of me are the smooth, reddish branches of a giant crepe myrtle. Out the window to my right is the old wooden swing set, more and more indistinguishable from the woods surrounding it. I’m sometimes writing to you and sometimes staring into those woods where sunlight filters down through the leaves and, although shining on only a few, it’s enough to make the whole woods sparkle.
 
I spent the first ten days of November in Provincetown, and I’m now home in Columbus until the new year. And boy, do we need a new year. But. I don’t want to wish away a single day—even these disturbing and sad ones. I cringe every time I accidentally use the expression “to kill time.”
 
Usually, I'm so grateful for the Thanksgiving break—four days to hang around the house and take it easy. But I've had hanging around the house up to my eyeballs. What I’m ready for is one of those old-fashioned European tours of 25 countries in 23 days!
 
Speaking of Thanksgiving, Cal and I plan to take a walk in the woods not far from the house before a late lunch of turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, and buttermilk pie—already ordered and to be dropped on our porch. Cal does all the normal cooking these days, but today I’m going to step into the kitchen to make my grandmother’s pimento cheese. In Tidal Flats, Cass also makes pimento cheese, her grandmother’s recipe—which you can find here.
You may already know Kathy Gunst from NPR’s Here & Now, where she is the award-winning Resident Chef. I read her most recent cookbook Rage Baking hungrily from cover to cover, wishing I baked. Many women contributed to this wonderful book that is part recipes, part essays, and part gorgeous photos and where each recipe has a story to tell. “As you read through the essays you will get a glimpse into the way women use the kitchen as a place of refuge, healing, love, anger, sadness, and activism.” In the introduction, Kathy writes,

What the baking did was reset my focus for a few short hours. It became a balm, a meditation of sorts. Baking was a way of temporarily restoring my belief in the positive transformation of things–in this case, butter, flour, sugar, and fruit.

I wrote more about Kathy and her writing here. And now for a sneak peek into Kathy’s day, spent at her home in Maine.

I peel and thinly slice apples and the last pock-marked pears from a neighbor’s tree and place them into a shallow gratin dish. I use my hands to sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, and granola and then gently work a stick of butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. I pat the topping down on top of the fruit, like tucking a child in with a winter blanket. I place the crumble into the hot oven and sit in my kitchen, catching the last bits of autumn light dancing on the pine trees out my window. Soon the room smells of apple orchards and cinnamon.... [read more]
How is your Pandemic Thanksgiving shaping up? Are you redesigning the day? Skipping it? Frozen pizza and a good book? Dancing in the den? Or trying to stay as close to normal as possible? 
 
It just occurred to me that when I write to you next time, Hanukkah and Christmas will be over, the days will be getting longer instead of shorter, and we’ll be just three days from that highly sought-after new year. Have you given any thought to how you will spend these last days of 2020? One December, I stopped trying to accomplish things at 5:00 pm and headed out to the street to walk for thirty minutes as light left the sky. I loved doing this but have never managed to make it happen again.

Take care of yourselves, drink water, try to step outside each day, read good words, watch the light move across the room. If you're sick, I'm sending healing thoughts. 

With this newsletter, I wish you moments of joy sprinkled throughout the remaining 37 days of 2020. And perhaps those moments will be sufficient to create an entire season of joy.

Be well.
This is an email from me to you so write me back. Let me know how you’re spending your days. And you can find past emails here.

Happy last days of November and thanks for reading.
 
Peace out,
--cynthia

 
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Issue #18 November 2020
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