A move is in order. To another farm house with outbuildings and plenty of space for a little boy and his dog to roam. We have lived in this house for almost a year and a half. Before that, a small rental house in Orange City for six months where I finished school and we brought home our baby. Before that, a basement apartment in Duluth Minnesota for a year and a half where we experienced our first year of marriage, opposite work schedules, laundromats, and nearly two break-ins.
It all feels like a process. Like I have strapped myself into some program where we perpetually move. As if we were characters in a game trying to gain ground, pick up tokens, beat our own high score.
There are a lot of things I want to leave behind in this house. The junk sulking in our garage, for example. And I want to leave behind my cynicism toward life and people. I have spent much too long nursing that quality, holding tightly to it, yet denying it like some bad addiction.
Moving back to my home town has been weird in a lot of ways, but truly good in one. Living here drew back the veil guarding a more naive version of my younger self. The self that grew up here. That used to genuinely love everyone. Genuinely believe that everyone was good. Whose heart used to burn with hope.
It’s a familiar story. Life happens, and you learn to build walls to protect yourself from failure and rejection. You learn what a sad, dark place the world can be. That people are sneaky and self-serving, and that you are sneaky and self-serving, too. You stop believing in God. Or at least that God could be good at all. And why not? What’s the point? If you hate everything, you have nothing to lose.
And then you have a kid. In a lot of ways, he saves you.
His very existence makes you need to pray that God is there at all. Because your son needs a future.
And he needs a mom who lets people into her heart instead of pushing them out.
Who instead of toiling over the sinking ship, pursues a better tomorrow.
I talked with my husband about it all yesterday. About money and fear and regret and a need for hope. And he said what he always says. “It will be okay”.
I never believe him when he says that. But I think he has some strange power of perspective that I seriously lack. Or he just wants me to stop worrying. Either way, I am counting my blessings today. I have to be grateful for the fact that we, too, aren’t under water like many of the people in our area. That I have someone in my life who I think truly believes he can do anything. That my toddler still totally wraps himself around me every morning. Whose eyes light up when I walk through the door. Who gives me a reason to make things better. Who has no time to eat my cake.
I made this cornmeal snack cake with fresh berries for my son and his friend yesterday, though I ate most of it. What can I say? My sweet tooth made me do it. It’s not a healthy snack, per say, but I appreciate its simplicity. It upholds the reliable goodness every snack cake should have, plus the fresh barriers.
Cornmeal-Berry Snack Cake
Yield 6 servings
• 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
• ¾ cup all-purpose flour
• 6 Tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal or corn flour
• ¾ teaspoons baking powder
• Pinch fine sea salt
• ¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
• 1 large egg
• ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 6 Tablespoons buttermilk
• 8 oz. fresh berries*
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 or 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat, scraping down the sides as needed. Then gently beat in vanilla extract.
Add whisked dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of buttermilk until just combines. Spread batter into prepared pan.
Sprinkle berries over top, then sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Bake until golden brown on top or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and more fresh berries. Cake is best served the same day it is baked.
*Be sure to divide your blackberries in half. Also, If using strawberries, be sure to quarter then and roughly chop them until they are relatively the size of half a blackberry or twice the size of an average blueberry. I also used less