The light is fading quickly. The living room is suffused with a muted glow that happens once the sun falls behind the buildings across the street from our house. We just finished a documentary about K-2. I’ve watched about three different documentaries on K-2 in the last five years and it never gets old: The shock of seeing specks of people move towards a point in the sky, surrounded by the most inhospitable landscape imaginable. The ability to only comprehend the scale of the mountain by seeing a tiny human speck on it, and still not be able to comprehend the scale or the beauty or the reality of it all. The human voices that come from the people who are willing, even excited, about being a speck, an ant in a sea of ancient monsters. And always, always the question deep inside somewhere that wonders: can I do that? Am I actually capable of climbing a mountain?
And now it’s January 2nd, the day after K-2 day, and molasses grapefruit cookies are cooling on the counter. Besides waning, residual feelings of inadequacy from the documentary, I’m feeling calm. I’m feeling capable. Not of following through with resolutions because I didn’t make any, but just of being ok.
Do resolutions help or hinder? Does saying something out loud, or writing it down on a piece of paper make it more real, more urgent, more? Or is it a false reboot to make us think that a new world has begun on our new terms?
The climbers in the documentary spoke as if they were under a spell by high-altitude climbing. They dreamed about climbing night after night, year after year. Once they had summited one mountain they could not exist in the world without wanting to climb another. The high, the meditation, the risk, it all was imprinted on them after that first climb.
Upon listening to a Radiolab podcast the other day about how to value nature, I was struck by the ending. After spending the last part of the podcast debating whether assigning an economic value to nature helps people value it, or lessens its role, a scientist offered an alternative perspective: we should think of the natural world in terms of a limitless bastion of ideas and creativity to be inspired by and draw from.
What a change in conversation. To speak of unbounded, unknown potential instead of stagnant or relative worth is, simply put, practicing humility. It is standing in wonder and choosing to be a tiny speck, continually.
Trying to come up with this recipe has been on my mind for about a year after M came home one day from Bavette with a giant molasses cookie. We have been fans of a certain molasses cookie that I’ve baked for years but this grapefruit molasses cookie was familiar yet slightly exotic- like it was our cookies’ fun, eccentric uncle. The bitter from the grapefruit was subtle but added a pop of punctuation to the heavy, almost burnt- like ambiance of the molasses. Light and heavy, bright and earthy, sweet and bitter. Too many wonderful things to count.
Molasses Grapefruit Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl combine:
3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I used finely ground sea salt)
In a large bowl beat together:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup of molasses
slightly less than 1/4 cup of grapefruit juice (preferably from a freshly cut grapefruit)
In a small bowl set aside:
4 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of grated grapefruit peel
Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture. Roll into balls and then roll each ball in the sugar mixture. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Careful, these are naturally dark cookies so don’t leave them in for longer than 11 minutes. Trust me, they’re done.
Yield: about 32 cookies