It’s not always easy to go home. My parents have been as welcoming as anyone could be to a mother of four who’s in between cities. I’ve enjoyed the Bell’s local brews, worked a couple days at the Water Street coffee house, played at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (possibly one of the best childrens museums east of the Mississippi putting all boroughs’ children’s museums to shame, in my humble opinion), sipped ice tea on the patio, scratched a dozen mosquito bites after a night run with my dad, dashed through sprinklers, weeded the garden, staked the tomatoes, slept to the crickets, slurped palazzolo’s sorbetto, run around in the dry fountain at Bronson park, checked out library books…and still I’m ready to push on and push out. There’s something about coming home that’s welcoming and slightly suffocating no matter how old you are or how cool your parents might be.
Between the 45 yard gulf that separated the exhibit hall and the corndoggy food stands, a lithe, wrinkled, hippily dressed and adorned African American woman busied herself beneath a small white tent preparing two pigeon grey card tables. From a distance her baked wares were visible against the merlot fabrics filling her wide wicker nests. Cookie “cakes” the size of a small child’s head fanned out in old flavor combinations like banana pecan and ginger molasses. As I accepted her invitation and ordered two sweets, I was struck by the tiny, hand-made label she’d fashioned like a pen and ink for each good. A sea of white adhesive squares were laced with what may be her home address, the name of the cookie, the date it was baked, and a price. $3.00 for the extra loops and curly cues that filled in the lonely white space. Cookies from scratch I can get, but handmade labels on cookies from scratch seemed slow, sweet, and the work of someone who took a lot of pleasure in the tiniest of details.