This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "yummy."
My Great Aunt E. lived a full 102 years of life. She embodied a sweetness rarely found in those who’ve lived through more than a century’s worth of what debacles humans can create for each other.
Aunt E. smiled big in every picture. She hugged us warmly whenever we saw her. At every family gathering, she proclaimed how good the food looked and how wonderful we all did, too. She sent us cards emblazoned with flowers and butterflies and kittens, just to say hello, even though we lived barely a five-minute drive from each other.
Her sweetness contained not a bit of sappiness. She lived in a retired person’s apartment building, home also to an energetic activities director forever dreaming up ways to keep his charges’ circulation flowing. One day Great Aunt E. called us with more thrill in her voice than we’d heard in awhile. She had just won first-place in the walker race (as in those who use a walker to steady themselves as they step), beating out five other lady seniors, all younger than she. My great aunt went on to fiercely defend her title of “Walker Race Champion, Female” for a number of years, well into her late 80’s.
My great aunt impressed by making mysterious desserts. She called one signature cookie “sand tarts.” Completely covered with a tan grit, they looked unappetizing. She proudly described how hard she worked to make the sand look real. We never understood why and we never asked; it was a family recipe and was not to be questioned.
These homely treats surprised those bold enough to believe they were as yummy as Great Aunt E. bragged them to be. They were light and buttery with tiny pecan bits sprinkled throughout. They possessed a wide range of pleasing textures unusual in something so small. We gobbled them every time she offered them to us. Though none of us have had a sand tart for years now, we still talk about them and can almost taste them when we do.
My grandmother might have the recipe somewhere, though probably not. My great aunt, fiercely protective of her signature creations, probably kept the recipe tucked away so no one could discover her secrets. A baking competitor could be lurking nearby, looking to steal the formula and pass it off as her own at the next bake sale in her apartment building’s lobby.
Great Aunt E.’s competitive drive kept her going. Ever upping the ante in her own life, she pushed herself just to see how far she could go. She went far, and well.