Five AM isn’t an hour with which I am well acquainted. The introductions I’ve had with the Crack of Dawn have been brief and often artificially inflated by the specter of travel or adventure. Under normal circumstances, anyone seeking me before, say, six on a go-to-work day, or the more reasonable seven thirty on a work-from-home day, should make a beeline to the master suite in the back of my house and not toward my kitchen at the hub.
If circumstances should find me in the kitchen at that unfamiliar hour, it would be far more likely to find me clinging to a steaming cup of joe like a drowning woman on a life preserver than at the helm of a mixer, as I was one particular holiday-time morning a few years back. On that occasion, I had both my parents and my grandmother under my roof and was scheduled to teach art all day and host a party for upwards of twenty teens and young adults all evening. Instead of taking a reasonable course of action like serving, say Purchased Goods (gasp), I decided on a Traditional Homemade Spread. Hand decorated gingerbread men. Festive Party Punch. And pumpkin pies with hand rolled crust. All of which, needless to say, had be fresh. Very, very fresh.
Which brings me to my 5 AM baking frenzy. Surrounded by spices and the wafting scent of baking crusts I was feeling so on top of my day—so satisfied, so do I dare say, smug? Because, really, if I’m being honest, I was royally Showing Off. I wanted my family to see me as a complete 21st century success: I can work! I can bake! I can decorate cute little gingerbread men with my kids! I can entertain!
Sure, I had to ‘keep moving,” make the most of my time, stay “organized”, and any of a dozen other mantras by which I keep pace. But that was OK, because later that evening I cut those pies into adorable little slivers and passed them around my beautifully decorated home and held my breath as a hush fell over the party and I waited to the satisfied “oohs” and contented “ahs” of my assembled guests.
At that moment, I basked in the glow of Accomplishment—the Gold Medal of the Keep Moving Guild. I had cranked out a day of which I could be proud. I had truly done the “all,” that folks over at the “Do What You Can” Club deemed impossible. Back then, I had no respect for the kind of living the Do-What-You-Canners were hocking. Who could possibly be interested in slow when fast got you so far?
Recent weeks have given me a glimpse into the Do What You Can, Proceed Slowly, “don’t sweat it” Society. During the hours I have spent with my husband over the past few weeks since his injury—which has been most of them—we have done nothing quickly. We’ve stuck to no kind of rigid schedule. We’ve done the things we can, when we can. And what I’ve found is that we have plenty of time—time to talk, to dream, to enjoy little things about each other that we too often miss. We’ve been able to play games, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing other than enjoy each other’s company. And the real shocker? Nothing has fallen apart. The house is still relatively clean. The kids are happy. The bills are paid. And I am more in love with my husband than I have ever been-- an accomplishment way more sweet than any pie I have ever served.
Dishing out my pumpkin pie that December evening, I had no inkling that I was missing out on anything. Intent as I was at “keeping things moving,” it didn’t occur to me that the hush that fell over the room was actually a pall. The fact that the one thing I missed that day was the sweet goodness on which everything hinged eluded me until I shoveled a big bit of pie into my own mouth and realized that in my haste to pop those pies into the oven, I had forgotten the sugar.