Lemon pound cake is my attempt at salvation today. The recipe calls for the requisite ludicrous amount of butter, white sugar, and the majority of my week’s WIC eggs. I will get no points as Frugal Housefrau today but we need this cake.
A yellow candle burns on the counter surrounded by fat, gloriously yellow fruits. I have whispered my prayer. My daughter is juicing the lemons. I steady her little hands over a bowl. We hold the lemon half in our left hands and squeeze, twisting a Peter Rabbit spoon around inside, pushing out the pulp and juice. “Squeeze, twist” we chant softly. I take my hands away to sift the flour. Little hands continue work, a little voice chants.
We need lemons today. We need yellow magic. We blend a huge pitcher of lemonade, roll and toss a half dozen lemons on the couch, cut out a construction paper bowl and fill it with paper lemons. I watch the sugar dissolve as I whisk the glaze for the cake. An intense lemon syrup shimmering. While I whisk my daughter runs around the living room busily setting up tiny bowls of dry cereal that a line of stuffed animals sidle up to for the rest of the day. I wash the mixing bowl, measuring cup, beaters…I listen to the water rushing from the faucet.
It has been a strange winter. In our bleak front yard sits the long since caved in Solstice snow fort, a mountain of dirty ice that she “otter slides” down. I stand beside her watching. It seems as if this winter has not really set in yet and at the same time has that interminable quality that pulls us into a place not exactly dark but dull. Perpetually overcast. One of my journal entries reads “pit of hellish self doubt = motherhood.”
Last week as we sat down to lunch our food barely fit on the table. A “party” had been arranged. Boxes and random containers were stacked together. Cakes, she told me. Huge, delicious cakes that were not to be moved. Magazine cutouts of ferrets were propped up alongside waiting to nibble at the dainties. She was tearing around reciting stories wearing her underwear, a yard sale find “ALF” life vest (circa 1986), and bouncing pigtails. For a child with such a brilliant imagination every piece of string or lint evokes an entire universe and she is utterly bereft if one is moved or vacuumed away. We vacillate between charmed and damned depending how well I draw a dog or how fast I sing a song.
We need this cake. We eat our slices contentedly.