"Yes Mrs. Johnson, 8:30 am would be fine. Oh no problem, dear. See you then. Good by."
She hung up the phone and sat for a moment staring out the back window. The view had changed now. Some of the obstructions had been removed, no longer did the old well house block the horizon. She smoothed the sides of her wavey hair back, tracing the embossed number on the top of the vault key between her fingers.
"Well first things first." She said out loud. "Tomorrow we'll see what mystery Jake has left us at the Credit Union."
Fanny let the tears flow down her clean tan face as she reached for her mixing bowl. The discovery of the box had opened her eyes. It was time to bake.
As she pulled out the various items for her cookie recipe she eyed the beautiful sculpture sitting alone in the middle of the table. The polished dark wooden box, glowed by the chandelier's light. He had carved it so long ago, before they were married. And now it held these mysteries, or maybe answers.
A double batch, she thought and scooped another two cups of unbleached flour into the mix and set the oven to 350 degrees.
How clever he was to work the vines in and around his initials. The delicate points of the jagged leaves turning, bending as if blown by the wind. He must have spent hours carving the Escher like puzzle. The complexity of it was amazing. What must he have been thinking? Where did he get his ideas from?
Jed was just like that, she thought, adding the dark brown sugar. How creative and care free at times her youngest was. His return was a relief. She had worried about him not coming home after his finals, but at least now, the story was beginning to fall into place.
Fanny wondered how many cookies she had made in her life time. She added four fresh blue eggs collected this very morning and pulsed the dough several times before adding half a pound of butter.
She cleverly had taught each of her boys a different recipe, thus assuring variety. Jon had been her best student. He took extreme care rolling the dough into perfect peanut butter balls and forking them flat into criss-cross perfection. Jerry her sweetest, had lead them to a blue ribbon Chocolate Macaroon, one summer at the fair.
Joss was more interested in the parts not the process. She tore off two parchment sheets and began to laugh remembering how her first, JJ, always loved buttering the square sheets with his little hands, licking each finger as they prepared the pans for shortbread together.
Control; was it about control? She pressed the pulse button again. The doughy mixture clotted into a ball. Or maybe, she drizzled the molasses over the dough without measuring, it was time to let go.
Eyeing the hammered latch Jake had fashioned more than fourty years ago, she realized how strong his work was. How clever, the iron vine wound itself around the box and secured the lid by curling through a budding leaf. How grounded he had been, then.
It was never a choice for him. Farming was in Jake's blood. Fanny understood; it was in hers too. The boys, the farm, her husband, had made it so. She didn't regret her choice.
The argument earlier had helped to elucidate it.
Each one of her boys had a different point, yet all wanted the same end. And to that she realized they had done a good job. The very best they could have done, but now was the time to try something new.
What would Jake have said she thought? Rotate the crop, Fanny.
Fanny opened the box and took out the black pouch. The dried buds inside were fragrant and a bit sticky, the sweet smell familiar. She placed one of them between the waxy paper sheets, and crushed it with her rolling pin, then added a cup of Jake's herb into the bowl. Adding equal parts of pecans, chocolate chips, rasins and dates, she pressed pulse several more times until the dough looked evenly blended, then scooped a dozen blobs onto the parchment covered sheets.
Fanny reread the letter while the cookies baked. It seemed only natural that Jake would look to the soil for answers. After all, it was always the answer, in his world. How ironic, she thought, the very "problem" the U.S. Government was tring to control in '91 would actually be the "solution" it needed now.
It seems, her late husband had been working on a hybrid from both climates; a natural perennial plant, easily grown, strong yeild, with "high" demand and taxable. The answer derived from the problem, in short, a brilliant idea.
The boys were all over the idea, she had to admit, but the legality of it now was controlled and that was the thorn wedged between them.
Fanny untied the leather ledger. The surprise of Jake's hand written notes caught her breath. His sketches in the margins were beautiful and organic. His sence of depth outshined only by detail. Her heart skipped.
The oven timer went off.
Fanny jumped, then laughed at her moment. She transferred the cookies to the counter and set the next batch to bake.
Tim stood in the kitchen doorway watching her from behind. His ardor stiffened and he braved a step forward. "What's so funny? Something smells incredible." He eyed the dark brown globs filled with goodness she had just pulled from the oven. Respectfully he had kept his distance since the funeral, but now he couldn't.
"Oh...Tim," Starled, she turned to face the handsome intern. She felt her guard melt upon hearing his voice. She longed for touch.
"Cookies, I thought I'd try out a new recipe. They aren't ready for the masses yet but..."
Before she could finish asking, he had his mouth full of hot cookie. "I thought you'd never ask." He managed, grinning ear to ear. His eyes said something else as they closed in on her. He sat back on the stool and helped himself to another cookie.
Fannys' heart raced. "That good, huh?" She closed the leather book and placed it along with the pouch back into the old box on the window sill. The sun hung lower in the sky, casting longer shadows over where the well house once stood. Outside the farm yard glowed. Then without missing a beat she turned and took the cookie from Tim's hand, and poped it into her mouth. Licking her fingers she said, "You don't want to eat too many of these... your view might get messed up."
Tim fidgeted on the stool, "Fanny we need to, uh talk?" He glanced down. His attraction apparently showing.
"Yes, Tim, I know we do." She lifted his stubbly chin and stared at the smudge of chocolate on his bottom lip. "Why don't you go clean up and I'll meet you in your room as soon as this batch of cookies is done." Then she licked the sweetness from his full lips.
The smell of brown sugar and chocolate blended with lillies sent him spinning from the room.
She stared out the window and for the first time in weeks Fanny felt that the farm would be just fine.
copyright(c) 2011 tgwithin
Thanks to S.B.& I.M. for song, G.I. for cookies and Y.T. so you can hear it!