“I look morning to night; I am never done looking.” Mary Oliver
“Oh the places you will go…” Dr. Seuss
These past two months I have been exploring the nooks and crannies of my new home, the hills, deserts and coasts of India –the land of contrasts. This cannot be contained in a picture, a passing thought, or a summation of events, but instead in stories that are now woven into my heart through thick woolen threads…vibrant, sandy, subdued, tender, sweaty, frayed, gorgeous threads.
Chapter One: Christmas in the Hills
Nan and I moved into a new home over break. The house is tucked under the high school girls’ dorm under large expansive trees with branches that are dotted with monkeys. After a few buckets of paint, some new pillows and familiar faces hung on our wall, our spacious two-story began to feel like a place to dwell. (It’s now proven true as we are both sprawled on the floor next to our bukhari –wood stove, listening to folk music and writing beautiful words to our friends and family).
This cement structure became a home Christmas eve day…Kate, Nan and I began baking early in the morning. We alternated using bowls, ingredients, and cookie sheets to make all our favorites: Peanut Blossoms, Truffles, Sugar Cookies, and Mexican Wedding Cakes. Flour was sprinkled everywhere and left a trail to our porch when we took a lunch break outside. Facing the sun, we raised our juice glasses full of wine to toast friends and Christmas celebrations that were warmer than any that us Midwesterners have ever experienced!
Soon, lefse-making became the main attraction in our busy kitchen. Steve had lugged a backpack full of potatoes to make lefse that would last a lifetime, or just a day. After boiling and mashing, the rolling began. Soon, experts arrived who’ve been trained to make paper-thin lefse. Glued to the stove, Tammy and Steve rolled and flipped on two tawa pans (frying pans that are made specifically for making chipatis). Despite our constant taste-testing with cinnamon and sugar that melted into dripping butter, the pile of this Norwegian potato flatbread continued to get higher.
We sent the sweet smell soaring up, up and away to the rest of the hill-dwellers as an invitation to come and mingle among rosy-cheeked friends, melt-in-your mouth cookies, and mulled apple cider. The house was full of delicious conversation, cheery laughter and ridiculous banter between friends. When we left for a midnight service, I did not care about the red and green sprinkles dotting the floor, the powdered sugar that was caked on our dinning room table, or the red wax dripped on our mantle. The windows were foggy and the fire was still glowing as we left to celebrate Immanuel, God with us.