Baking Mileposts

biscuits“Would you make me some biscuits?”

I dump flour into a giant mixing bowl, and Mom squints happily at the white cloud. For her, biscuits are mileposts baked into four score and seven years.

On the fridge door I study her scribbled recipe: A smidgeon of baking powder, salt and Crisco …

“Mmmm. Looks goood.”

I’m a grown man, but Mom’s approval still satisfies me like hot cocoa. I knead her biscuit dough, because she needs to remember.

Mom recalls her mother baking biscuits in a tent, while her father panned for gold during The Great Depression. She remembers her mother baking in the company cabin, while her dad tended vats of mercury at a sulfur mine.

Mom reminisces about her mother turning out biscuits by the hundreds at a restaurant they owned in Long Beach. She thinks back on cooking in an adobe kitchen at Grandpa’s 80-acre ranch. And she chuckles at herself at 21, an “auxiliary,” browning biscuits for troops in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

I drop uneven globs of dough onto a worn cookie sheet—it’s not the way she would do it, and I laugh aloud at her scowl. Her tired old oven has been bronzing confection for nearly 50 years, and Mom and I wait 15 minutes longer… We love the taste of warm butter and cool jam on biscuits.

Sometimes a mom needs a son to bake up mileposts, and with her, to savor a hard life well-lived.

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