Today, we've got a lovely guest post from one of our team members, Carolyn Walsh. Carolyn was the first person to be brought on board to help me out in kitchen. Michael had been my trusty assistant from the very beginning stages of the company, but for the sake of our relationship I fired him. (Smile) I think it turned out to be a good decision, though, as we were married last month. Thank Goodness for Carolyn - baker, candy maker, and relationship equalizer.
When I first asked her to write a post for the blog, she balked at the idea - "What on EARTH am I going to write about!?" - but I encouraged her that this was a low-pressure gig; just a fun way for people to get to know the folks that are a part of our Team. I told her to write about whatever she wanted; about what inspired her, her favorite cookie, her family, what she's learned since joining B+L, her love of books - whatever! It was the mention of her love of books that got to her, because her countenance lightened and I could practically see the wheels spinning in her head! I'd managed to pique her interest.
A few weeks later, she emailed me with her post, and I must say - I was immediately drawn in to her story. I was also impressed. Not only can she perfectly bake a zillion trays of cookies, but she can write, too! So, without further adieu, I encourage you to carve out a few minutes in your afternoon, brew a fresh cup of coffee, and get to know Carolyn and the Lupine Lady...
My mother read to me quite a lot when I was a little girl. We started (as I imagine is normal) with picture books , but quickly moved on to bigger and better things (I used to believe this was due to my astonishing intellect; upon later reflection I've decided it was more probably a result of Mom's low tolerance for picture books). Many of the nicest things about myself--including my close relationship with my mother and my excellent vocabulary--I credit to the time we spent reading grown-up books that went completely over my head, but there was one picture book that never dropped completely off our map.
Miss Rumphius (story and pictures by Barbara Cooney) just might be the greatest book ever written. It is the story of the elderly Lupine Lady, once a little girl named Alice who dreams of traveling to faraway places and growing old beside the sea. Her grandfather, an artist, encourages these dreams, but tells her that there is a third thing she must do--something to make the world a more beautiful place. Alice agrees, though she does not know what that might be.
I'm tempted to quote the entire book to you line by line, but I wouldn't want to give away and lovely surprises. Suffice to say that the illustrations are gorgeous, the text is poetic without being precious and in the end, Alice grows up and meets the challenge set by her grandfather.
Although I--like little Alice--am a little overwhelmed by the challenge of "doing something to make the world a more beautiful place," I try not to forget that little beauties can be just as important as big ones. My neighbor may be gardening for his own personal pleasure, but his two-foot-square oasis of a garden brightens our entire block (and unlike the gigantic amazing Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, is free to all passersby!).
So while keeping in mind that I would someday like to have a Lupine-Lady-level impact on the world, I am working on little things for now. I like to think that when I pick up a piece of trash on the sidewalk I'm at least doing my part to hold ugliness at bay; as I approach the globally-insignificant task of painting my apartment, I think about how life in a more comforting environment will allow me better access to my creativity--maybe once I've freed my mind from how dingy the walls are, I'll be able to focus on something else. Something like baking the perfect pumpkin oatmeal cookies or, you know, solving world hunger. One thing at a time.