The rhubarb in my garden is more green the red. The stalks are thin and gangly. They are not the thick sturdy stalks of the supermarket. Mine are a subtler kind. I am thankful for the green pies and curds they make, though there was a time when I tempted to make them into something more dazzling by adding a bit of food coloring, hoping for the bright, tantalizing red I thought was the true marker of the fruit. Now that I am nearing the latter part of my 30s and I am the mother of two and the wife of one, I’ve grown better at taking things as they are and being grateful for what I have. What a gift this decade has been to me.
Dana and I are almost at the end of our photographing schedule. I am happy to be home for a bit, and back to writing in my cubbyhole of an office and embracing the buzzing of life that radiates from my own kitchen. It’s full of spilled milk, floured floors and the not-so-helpful helpfulness of little hands.
When my children were little, really little, I cooked with them at my side. The simple act of it eroded my sanity, chipped away at my patience and even led to a fit or two (or five) of my own. The act of making something from scratch with little kids and all of their moving parts was daunting enough, let alone the aftermath of the main event and the chore of reconstructing both the kitchen and the children. Sugar in the cracks of hardwood floors and the scalps of babies, dough balls smooched into the creases of a chair. All that work and I was left with lemon pepper in the rhubarb scones. Such is life with little hands in the kitchen.
This spring in between telling stories and traveling to farms my 5-year-old and I have had some quiet afternoons together. When his little sister sleeps, we bake. It’s therapeutic, I think, for both of us and I’m a better listener when I am in motion and not distracted by the thoughts of all I should be doing when I’m already in the process of doing.
I have noticed on these early afternoons when the the light in the house is still soft and blue that he has learned to bake. He thinks about flavor, suggests that we add a little of this and leave out all of that. He samples raw flour, something I don’t quite understand, and he beamed with pride the day I let him use the sharp knife to cut the rhubarb. We have both learned from all of those failed attempts at cooking and baking in the years since his birth. We have become quite the team, working in a bumpy rhythm that I know will smooth itself out eventually.