It was hard to capture the essence of Natalie’s expression in this photo. But it’s a little bit of disbelief, a little bit of love and a little bit of pure pleasure.
You see, some of the best things about spending time at the cabin are the simplest pleasures. We have all the modern conveniences of home, don’t get me wrong, but there are usually a lot of people around and the outside of the cabin is simply much larger than the inside, naturally supporting a lot of outside play.
Prior to this photo, my three littles decided they were going to have a soup and stew contest. I was to be the taste-tester and judge of the contest. James set up a winner’s podium. One plastic lawn chair for 1st, one for 2nd and one for “chicken dinner.” Apparently in contests there are two winners and a chicken dinner – it’s going through your head right now – Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
As any good educator of the 21st century would, I gave them formative feedback along the way to help them perfect their soup. “Hm, needs some garlic salt… You could add something green…. That soup is spicy, add some cream.”
When they were finished I carefully tasted each soup (not for real; sand-grass-petal-rock soup is not my favorite). I described for them the depth of flavor their soup possessed and what I like best about it. James and Liberty beamed as I told them about their soup. James began to immediately inquire about who gets #1, #2 and, of course, chicken dinner.
But I still had Natalie’s soup to taste. She had worked separately from the others, gathering ingredients from all corners of the property. She even dumped out her soup twice to start over because it wasn’t good. I commented about how her soup had a hint of jasmine, noting how expensive jasmine is and how she must really care about her soup customers to gather spices and fallen flower petals from all over the world. I remarked how her soup had a hint of the Orient while maintaining a strong down-home-American base. She had very little to say during my critique, except that look she gave me. That look that told 1000 stories, that look the was the direct physical evidence of chains of thoughts rolling around in her head.
That look said, ‘Is she for real?’ Which gave way to, ‘My mom is pretending, right?’ And finally seemed to settle on, ‘This is mostly pretend, with my fake soup and my detailed chef critique, but it’s pretty awesome…’ And she soaked up every second.
So I maintain, it was a look of a little bit of disbelief, love and an immeasurable pleasure. Yes, it was difficult to capture that look in a photo. Pictures alone are supposed to be worth a thousand words, but hopefully this image, with these words can give a hint to the joy that these little things at the cabin make me feel.