I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give. –Julia Child
Our youngest grandchildren, ages three and five, are cooking for us. The three year old runs off to retrieve a frisbee (his cake pan) and then fills it with rubber mulch from under the backyard playground set. His sister, the five year old, starts the main course, Stone Soup, in a bucket of water.
“This soup needs spices.” She adds sand. “It needs salt and oregano.”
“We need a pie,” says her little brother.
“A cherry pie!” Together they load another frisbee with sand and pebbles from their play area. She carries the “pie” to a swing.
“This is our oven,” explains her brother.
Herb asks if the soup is ready. They serve us with sand shovels and dishes.
The sun hasn’t set, the parents won’t return for another hour, the outside air is fresh, so we make menu suggestions.
“How about a salad with blueberries? Or chocolate mousse?”
A sandbox chocolate mousse is apparently a familiar recipe: water, sand, and pebble morsels mixed together, then allowed to thicken through evaporation.
Suddenly thunder sounds in the distance. The child-cooks look up and listen. Big sister reassures little brother, “It’s far off. It’s okay.”
The sky darkens, the trees whip, the swings sway. Thunder echoes against the distant mountains. We feel rain drops.
“Quick, Jonah, we have to move the food so it doesn’t get wet!”
An emergency is underway. The pounding thunder nears. They carefully move pie, cake, mousse, and soup under cover.
“Stay under the deck,” advises big sister.
“I’m cold,” complains little brother.
We suggest we go inside, but we must walk up outside steps to the upper deck and enter the house through the kitchen door.
“Hurry, Jonah. It’s dangerous!” says big sister. “Hurry, Oma. Hurry, Poppies!”
“It’s dangerous, Poppies!” warns Jonah, his little legs pumping, his eyes wide with concern.
We, the child watchers, the careful grand-parents, are guided to safety by little ones.