I waited all last night for the predicted Big Wind
but it remained gentle and fairly calm outside. I laid in bed
with the shades open and watched snow swirl past the window,
carried aloft in the benevolent 20mph gale.
And this morning, booted and swaddled in Irish wool,
I trekked down the driveway to fetch the Sunday paper
and every step sounded with a crisp crack as the crust
which formed overnight on the snow's surface shattered.
When I was fifteen I made a chocolate cake from my mom's
three-ring-binder Betty Crocker cookbook called
Black Midnight Cake and frosted it with seven-minute
icing. And because of some particular humidity
in the air, some fluctuation in the dew point,
the outer edges of this thick white swirly confection
crystalized: you bit through a delicate crunch before
losing yourself in the pillowy white; the dense black
of the underlying, now nearly irrelevant cake almost
I've not yet been able to duplicate that incredibly
sensual experience. It was a gift to the tongue
and one of those surprises that occurs when one dabbles
in the science -- the chemistry -- of baking.