When I was little, I used to become very taken with certain things. I didn’t just like them, I loved them. It made me happy to think about them, and in a way, the very liking of them defined me. Sometimes, admittedly, my affection took on an acquisitive nature. How I coveted the soft soft stuffed rabbit in the store around the corner, or the chocolates that looked exactly like birds’ eggs and came in a little straw nest! But as often as not it wasn’t something I wanted to own. It was a song or a picture or a color or an idea. This little drawing of a cat, a twig with red bark that I’d worn smooth at both ends, Mozart’s letters, the book After Man a Zoology of the Future, a periwinkle ribbon at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Tintin, Tintin’s blue sweater, Tintin’s shoes, the way Snowy eats crackers and Tintin eats mashed potatoes, my Maid Marian (the Fox) playing card, and on and on it goes.
And as I got older that feeling became somewhat muted, or so it seems. I still loved plenty of songs and movies and colors and ideas (I’m a fan by nature) but never really with that glow of specialness. That crush-y feeling. Maybe because there’s always a sense of outside judgement, maybe just the result of a grinding-down of my enthusiasm with the sandpaper of adult worries and responsibilities.
Last spring, after a month or so of lockdown and all of the fairly-constant stream of worries and cares that brought about, I walked Clio along the towpath, as I do nearly every day. A mulberry tree stretched out across the canal, trapping the light in its pretty leaves. Each time a mulberry fell into the water an excited armada of geese and ducks hurried over to gobble up the berry. Well, I LOVED everything about this. I love the graceful way a mulberry tree’s roots cling to the bank but the branches stretch out, strong but still vulnerable. I love the shape of mulberry leaves. I love the light in the water, the ducks’ flashing feet and smacking beaks. I like to shake the branches to make the berries fall faster. I recognized it as a return to that old feeling, the feeling that just liking a thing is a source of joy. Since then there have been so many other things. Just recently I love the Basque word for Squirrel (urtxintxa); I have a crush on an American black duck and her mate (they hang out with all the weird whistling mallards in our town); I can’t stop listening to this song and watching this video, though it is far from my usual taste in music; I like when football players pray with their palms up before stepping on the pitch; I love a dream I had about a blue deer on the towpath at night; I love the towpath at night; I love the Go Saddle the Sea Trilogy; I love the bluejay who took a peanut from the table I was sitting at; I like this unintentional poem, “I fancy/in this qualifying campaign/Peru will play worse than this/ and win.”; I like fruit bats eating bananas; I love the little wooden bird David made that fits perfectly into my hand and is a comfort in stressful times, as is the pipe cleaner man Isaac hung to the drawer handle on my desk, whom I also love.
In thinking about this, I have decided to post one thing that has taken my fancy every day. (Well, almost every day, probably, taking into account blue moods and work hours). It won’t be a whole post every time, it might just be a link. It won’t always have a recipe, though sometimes it might. It’s a way to find beautiful things in stressful times–to spread delight instead of worry . We’ll see how long we can keep it up! I’d love to hear about anything you have a crush on as well!
2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt (or more if you like it a bit salty, which I do)
Raw sugar to sprinkle on top
I made these in the stand mixer because I was feeling too lazy to cream the butter. So…put the butter in the mixer or a bowl, and process/cream till smooth. Add the sugars and vanilla and process/stir again until completely smooth. Add the egg, process/stir.
Add all of the dry ingredients and process for a minute or two until it all clumps together in a nice thick even dough. Transfer to a bowl and chill for 20 or 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter your baking sheets. On a well-floured counter roll the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out into a deer, or in any shape you like. Transfer to the baking sheet cook till done, until they’re just starting to turn golden brown on the bottom. It was about ten minutes for me, but keep an eye on them!! Let cool on a cooling rack for ultimate crispiness..
Frosting is powdered/icing sugar plus a bit of butter, vanilla, and salt. Then just enough milk to make a spreadable frosting frost the beasties, and sprinkle with raw sugar if you’ve got.