Midwestern Mama Cooking up Life in the HeartlandNavigation
I’m a newly single mom of two young kids and toddler twins. I have all of the ingredients in life to make an awesome soup — come along as I tear up the recipe card, throw humor, honesty, and heartfelt hope into the pot, and give it a stir. I simmer with love as I write the unexpected story of my family.
You may spot with your eyes so keen
An arctic wolf in nature raw,
His warm white fur so close and snug.
Into his den, all darkly snug
Against the biting wind so keen
With him he brings his dinner raw.
His loneliness exposed and raw
The confines of his world too snug
With his howling voice he does keen.
A keen too raw, his lean heart snug.Read More
My father once told tale of a time before, a time when people had many, many things, too much money and not enough sense. He spoke of electronics, of ancient boxes that talked and of a current connecting all of everything to everything else.
We hung on his words, awed into silence.
He only spoke of this once, despite the many times we begged to hear more.
“It was before my grandfather’s great-grandfather’s time. So long ago…” His voice trailed off like a ball of yarn rolling under a bench.
“We are lucky now,” he stated, emphatically pounding the table with his dirt-lined hand. “Yes, lucky.”
His certainty rallied neither me, nor my wife, Clara, who quietly nursed Sadie as she rocked gently from side to side on her lopsided stool.
I suppose one is lucky if one can cobble together enough food for a meal to feed everyone in the house. Or if there is enough thread to darn one’s socks, true fortune is having thread that matches the socks.
But my luck falls in random cloudbursts. I was lucky the day I found Clara shivering in our barn, terrified and alone. I was lucky as I watched her growing our child. I was lucky that when the sickness came for my mother, it took her quickly and that none of the rest of us got it.
The rest of life hasn’t been so lucky. Floods wash away our crops every year and the Council will not let us move to higher ground. They punish us excessively when we cannot provide our percentage of the wheat. Our neighborhood is ruled by a canny witch, Rona, who demands the best from our homes. If we don’t give it to her, she steals it and we must barter for our own possessions. I was not lucky when the winter set in far too early this year. No one in the village was prepared, yet that did not stop the shards of wind from cutting through our worn clothes and patched roofs.
It was on one of those wickedly cold days that I think my luck simply ran out. Clara and I had bundled ourselves and set out for work, she in the mill and I at the stables. My father was left to keep Sadie as she gurgled and cooed from her basket. But he fell asleep and did not hear when the witch Rona slipped in and carried off our most treasured possession: Sadie.
Hours later, he woke and the basket and babe were gone. In a blind panic, he set out for the stables to find me. We ran through the alleys, knocking on doors, pleading with neighbors until the washerwoman whispered “Witch” into her pile of soiled linen.
Stricken, my father dropped his face into his hands, moaning, “She will eat the child…”
When I told Clara, I could feel her heart plummet; it landed hollowly on the floor of the mill. In silence, she followed me to the tavern.
“If Rona wants to trade, she will be here,” I hoped aloud. Clara stared blankly into the swirling snow.
We were nearly knocked over by the heat and sound and smell of the tavern. Someone was cooking meat. I swallowed and hoped it was a stray cat or a raccoon, anything but Sadie.
Rona sat at the largest table, nearest to the arched fireplace. In her lap, Sadie clapped her hands when she saw us, her toothless grin a reassurance.
I just need my luck to turn for three minutes. Long enough to make a trade.Read More
We turn out our pockets: six matches and a piece of string.
Across the table, Rona’s good eye lights on the matches.
Six fires. Six nights when the chill scuttles from the hearth.
Rona shoves Sadie back into our arms.Read More