The wilderness at 402 Milliken

On Tuesday, Google Calendar gave me a day’s notice of an important birthday. It had “borrowed” the information from my old Yahoo calendar, which package of new-age products I discontinued using when I started receiving replies from a deceased colleague to notes I’d never written. Sorry. I’m wandering.

It was back in the days when I was exercising (mostly yoga and running). It was back when I slept seven or eight hours a night, and when my cell was a brick that I left in the car for emergencies. I had marked the date on my calendar on the morning after I had heard a fantastic talk by Doug Scott during a retreat hosted by FAW (Friends of the Allegheny Wilderness).

On Tuesday, Google reminded me that Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. For me, the anniversary calls to mind a moment in the nation’s history, a moment preceded by an enormous amount of hard work by ordinary people and by extraordinary people, when the nation had determined to protect a portion of its land from commercial development.

Wilderness, they said, mattered. They argued, in part, that sacred space for breathing and private prayer — however the practice is named — is enormously helpful. I agree. Probably most people agree. It seems so obvious. But we forget. I forget.

People ask why I bake cookies on Friday mornings, and my answer varies with my mood. It’s fun. I like to be hospitable. I think good food is a good connector. Cookies are gobbled and words may linger, but both tend to be consumed while we are largely unaware. Baking and writing provide nearly instant gratification to me.

But this week I am reminded that baking and writing also provide a space in which I fully relax. Getting up earlier than usual when the house is quiet, pouring sugar, cracking perfect eggs, melting butter, thinking about how the cookies will fit into the day, how nice the world is — these are some of the most pleasant, refreshing elements I know.

They seem to be my wilderness for now. This week, as the nation considers its wilderness — the real parcels of land that we protect as best we can — I am grateful to those who pressed for the legislation fifty years ago and for those who wrangle with its implications today. And I am grateful for the space at 402 Milliken, where baking and writing for my friends is so graciously received.

I hope today’s snickerdoodles, probably the sweetest and most simple cookie I know, will remind you of the ordinary things that refresh you.

Happy Friday.

Come and get ’em!


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