I haven’t heard my father’s name spoken so many times in the 12 years since he died as I have in the last week. For the first time I truly understand, and I feel, the power of a namesake. It evokes. It reminds. It says: here is the cycle of life. We are born. We live, and try to live well. Then we do move on to eternal life.

There is a new baby in the family, and his aunt (and of course, his grandmother) came a-running to catch a glimpse of his face and hands and little, tiny feet. It’s stunning what being in the same room with a child who has been here less than a week can do for the soul. Especially for someone who has thought long and hard about her own non-motherhood. There’s a kind of downward pull that dwelling on this facet of my life can have. That is, until I decide (and I can do that, decide how to feel, then proceed as decided. You can too.) to consider the ways in which my particular brand of aunt-hood has given me mothering opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have.

A conversation I overheard between one of my nieces and one of my nephews, when they were so small, sums it up:

Where’s Maureenie’s baby?

She doesn’t have one.

Well we’ve gotta go GET her one at the STORE.

No, NO. If we do that, she won’t have any time for us.

We’re here in Minnesota taking care, cooking a line-up of foods so long we can’t possibly get to them all. But there will be an indulgence or two (apple pie, braised short ribs) and some good sustenance for a tired mama’s early morning hours (favorite granola, homemade yogurt).

There is a line from a song that keeps going through my head this week. For unto us a child is born. For unto…us. Yes yes, it takes a village and all of that. Beyond that, it takes a grandfather who is not here to see, but who is here in name. And it takes an aunt, deciding that not only is her glass half full, her cup runneth over.

Apricot-Walnut Granola with Orange Blossom Water
A great basic recipe for granola, which can be varied easily. Add almonds and pecans, dried cherries or currants. Vanilla instead of mazaher. Be sure to line the pan with parchment, or the granola will stick. Next to ordering dried apricots from California, Trader Joe’s has the finest around.

3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 ½ cups dried apricots, chopped
½ cup butter, coconut oil, or canola oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup maple syrup
3 teaspoons orange blossom water

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Place the oats and walnuts in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter (or warm the oil, if using instead) and add the honey, maple syrup, and orange blossom water. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Pour over the oats and mix with a large spoon until well coated.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown, stirring once or twice for even baking. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chopped dried apricots over the oat mixture, stirring to combine. Allow the granola to cool completely in the pan, then transfer to an airtight container. The granola will keep for two weeks. Makes about 5 cups of granola.

Print this recipe here.

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