It’s unbelievable to me that we are in the middle of our third fall in our home. We purchased this house with the anticipation of our small town ticking all the boxes for entertainment and relationships we had hoped for. As time has marched on, things have remained a bit more quaint than we had hoped. Sweet shops and restaurants have opened and closed, friends have moved away and we’ve added a member to our family who doesn’t quite fit in with our young and married lifestyle that we had planned.
Slowly (and probably by the lead of my introverted self), we started to recluse. Our plans of having pool memberships and knowing our waitresses name at the local pub began to fade. As my body grew in girth and pain during pregnancy, I became even less eager to leave our little dwelling place.
Then he arrived.
Our sweet Grayson Henry made his first appearance in our little town May 16, 2017 on an unseasonably hot day. With him came a whole new world of living. Any desire to catch up with friends for a beer or coffee were suddenly evaporated into air that was instead laced with hours mournful cries from our little babe.
Our weeks slipped by as we racked our brains for ideas on how to soothe this little boy and his mirage of digestive challenges. I gave up a lot more quickly than David. My body felt exhausted from waking every two hours to nourish my boy’s belly and it was also stunned in painful aches from being cut into to release our little life into the world. By 4PM every night I would reach my ending point and I pass off our little babe to David in humble hopes that he could figure out some solution that had not occurred to me. Then one night it happened.
I came downstairs from a questionable nap and found the house empty. My boy and babe were gone and too exhausted to even panic, I slowly lowered myself to the sofa and sat. The light was fading, the sun just beginning to set. I looked around the room and felt a twinge of apprehension. Something seemed wrong. Wrong? No, not wrong. Not wrong, but different. Unusual. What was it?
Quiet. It was quiet. Not only did I not hear the crying from another room but I didn’t hear it out on the porch or echoing through the yard. I was sitting in a quiet room for the first time in weeks. It was quiet and I had no explanation for it. How did he do it? How did he finally quiet our dear, sweet babe?
The answer seems obvious on this end. He had simply begun to walk him around our neighborhood. Nothing fancy. Gray was still tiny enough to just be cradled as David walked around in circles so around they went. I was so jealous of these sweet moments with our little guy that I began to save all my energy for the evening so that I, too could start walking.
Walk we did and our time was so dear that we continued. Every night that we’ve been home and without rain, we’ve been around our neighborhood. We’ll walk as far as he lets us usually an hour or more. These are hours that began as a time waster and have since become some of the most beloved in our household. It’s given David and I otherwise impossible time to talk about our days, our goals for Gray, and all the other conversations that seem to slip through the cracks when life gets busy.
So often while we were out, we would be waved down by onlookers. The porch sitters, fellow walkers and gardeners all wanted a peek at our babe. I would often cringe and try to avoid eye contact. The constant motion kept our little screamer sleeping and I feared jeopardizing that by stopping to talk about birth weight and dahlias. But David, my trusty extrovert and people Lover with a capital “L”, would always stop. As he conversed, I’d find myself wrapped up in my over-worried thoughts.
“Please don’t talk to loud…”
“Please keep moving somehow to keep him hushed…”
“Stop asking so many questions. You too, David.”
After a few nights, though I realized the gentle swaying back and forth from David as he stood and the white noise chatter was just enough to keep our guy sound asleep. I also noticed something even more unexpected: these people genuinely cared for us. They took sympathy in our stories of sleepless nights and shoulder shrugs about how to handle everything. More importantly, I began to notice the looks on their faces as they recalled those years decades ago that they spent caring for their littles. It was like a spark the set fire to a long line of emotions and memories. So as we stood there, I learned that those moments were valuable, quiet ones for us, but moreso- blessed ones for these strangers we were just getting to know. They shared their special memories- ones that I count valuable. Not because they held any great advice or magic answers but because they brought the brightest smiles to their faces and I would assume, the best feelings to their hearts.
So while I would naturally try to avoid strangers, these small conversations have stacked up to bring us much closer to the people living in our community. There’s Peg who lives on the corner. She’s a widow but her lose hasn’t stopped her from living her life to the fullest. Her and her black kitty Pumpkin (that’s pronounced “Pun’kin”) can be seen taking their own walks together through the neighborhood but most nights we’ve found her tending her pristine yard. There’s Mary who often walks with a partner but sometimes walks alone to enjoy some peace and quiet. I think Mary and I would be good friends. There’s Bill and his wife who have let us use their lawn mower all summer long. There’s the man and his wife whose names we have never caught who sit on their porch, woman with her book and man with his cigars and two big waves always ready. Our friend up the way who has a red Solo cup with water every day except for Fridays when he’ll “cheers” David and share a little laugh. There are so many more- eccentric and hopelessly ordinary. And for them we are thankful.
As Gray has grown, I’ve been able to find quiet ways to keep him entertained while I attempt to complete other tasks. I really wanted to share a small gift with some of these people as Thanksgiving approaches. To let them know that this year, they are who we are thankful for. The best way to convey our affection was a batch of homemade cookies and there’s really no other choice in the fall other than my Grammy’s pumpkin cookies. Now, I’ve never actually attempted to make these before. They seem sacred and intimidating. There’s nearly 30 years of memories wrapped up in eating them, but they’re a treat I want to share with Gray every year so the time had finally come for me to learn how to make them on my own.
So I gave it a try. I made a huge mess of my kitchen and dining room. But it was a mess that didn’t involve diapers and rattles so I was content with it. I was pleased with the end results and ready to bag them up, but David requested that we keep ALL 4 dozen as a “test batch” and that I make more closer to the holiday. So this week I’ll be finding myself back in the kitchen making new batches to share.
If you want to try your hand at your own, here’s the recipe:
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg, pumpkin, van. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Drop by tsp onto well greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
These are perfectly sweet and a bit savory and will probably change your life. Though I will be honest, I think cookies baked by grammies always have a secret component to them that can never be fully replicated. Might be magic Grammy dust, might be love- something like that.
Until next time!