Rocking-chair, Everyone and Death.

My recipe for this month is inspired by Mother’s Day.

Mum’s Chocolate self-saucing dessert

80g butter ; ½ cup sugar ; 1 cup SR flour ; 1 egg ;

2 dstspns cocoa ; ½ cup milk ; ½ tspn vanilla essence

Sauce:

½ cup sugar ; 2dstspns cocoa ; 1 cup hot water

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Fold in flour and cocoa, alternately with milk.
  5. Put into a greased casserole dish.
  6. Mix sauce sugar and cocoa and sprinkle over the top of pudding.
  7. Pour the hot water carefully over the pudding.
  8. Place casserole onto a baking tray and bake for 35-40mins.
  9. Serve with cream, ice-cream or custard. Serves 6.

***

In Australia, May is the month we put aside a Sunday to appreciate our mothers. Everyone has a mother, although not every woman becomes a mother. Some mothers are great, some not so wonderful. Some mothers leave us to seek another life, and some are taken from us by disease or age.

Over the years of human and animal existence, mothers have always been with us. We call the Earth – Mother Earth. The faithful in convents have a Mother Superior. Women in some societies who excel in the use of natural herbs and medicines often have the moniker ‘mother’ and are revered by all. Sometimes, like in the Salem trials in the 17th century, these women were considered witches, and persecuted, although this has been greatly exaggerated over time. (That was the assumption of the play ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller – one of the husbands of screen star Marilyn Monroe.)

As an aside, the nursery rhyme ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ apparently had its origins during the reign of Henry the 8th, and had nothing to do with cupboards, dogs or bones. Google tells me that Mother alluded to Sir Thomas Wolsely trying to get an annulment from the pope so Henry could divorce his out-of-fashion wife!

A painting of ‘Old Mother Hubbard’

So my story for you to read this month, is inspired by those brave women, now and in the past, who continued to help the uneducated, even under the threat of death.

***

THE SLIP.

Jane stood on the top of the cliff overlooking the wild sea. The wind tore at her hair and the ends of her scarf fluttered furiously as if trying to escape. She sighed as she wished that she hadn’t lost her baby and the scene blurred as tears flooded her eyes. If only she could go back in time and stop the fall that caused the miscarriage. She had so wanted to become a mother.

When her vision cleared, she turned to go back along the lonely track to the comfort of her home. She was surprised to notice a cottage that she hadn’t noticed before. Smoke spiraled from the chimney and Jane noticed that the wind had died away. For some unknown reason she shivered, and her breath puffed in small spurts from her mouth.

Without conscious thought, she wandered towards the cottage and, just as she was level with the gate, the front door opened.

“Hello, Jane,” said the old lady at the door. “Please, come ye in out o’ the cold.”

Jane stood, confused. How did the woman know her name? Who was she? Had she lived here long? With hesitant steps, Jane approached and the old lady stepped aside to let her in. Jane peered around her as she entered.

Inside, the cottage was small, cozy and very basic. A large wooden table had a old plate in the middle of it, filled with a concoction of strange items. The room was so small that the fire and a rocking-chair at the far end of the room was the only other obvious furnishings. An old-fashioned cauldron hung over the flames, and a satisfying smell wafted throughout the room from the liquid that was bubbling therein. Jane wondered where the old lady slept. No doubt there was a lean-to out the back for her other needs.

The old lady pulled Jane towards the chair.

“Sit down, m’dear,” the old lady said, pointing to the chair. “You must get warm again after running from those soldiers. They won’t find you here.”

“Soldiers?” Jane didn’t understand.

“Och,” The old lady shook her head and grimaced. “James the 6th of Scotland is fighting the bastard English.” She spat into the fire in disgust and Jane’s eyes widened as the hiss made the flames leap.

The lady ladled some of the hot liquid from the cauldron into a bowl and handed it to Jane.

“Here, get this into ya’. It’ll do you the world of good,”

Jane relaxed and smiled, and as she drank, the old lady tucked a blanket about her shoulders.

Jane felt the cold, sadness and loss trickle out of her bones, and, before long, her eyelids drooped and she slid into darkness.

When she opened her eyes later, she sat at the top of the stairs at home. Jane frowned. How had she got there? She couldn’t remember coming back from the walk on the windswept cliffs above the house. what had happened? Would she ever find the cottage again? Was the old lady a witch? A phantom from the past? A figment of her imagination? She slowly stood, gripping the handrail and carefully made her way down the stairs. Her other hand touched her newly pregnant tummy bump.

This time, she didn’t fall.

She would be a mother after all.

***

I hope you enjoyed both my recipe and my story. Some of us may dream of being a mother some time in the future, just like Jane. Or we may have a family that is warm and loving already. Whatever your situation, remember to continue to dream and to hope for the best life will give you.

I write children’s stories, and have picture books that mention the importance of family. One is called ‘Betty Bee’s Birthday Bash” and another is ‘Giddy the Galah’. They are available for AU$18 plus postage each. If you buy one, you receive a signed copy and a free bookmark. If you buy them both, the price is AU$35 and you get an additional surprise gift. Should you decide to look up my Facebook page and want any others, you are more than welcome. PM me for further information and my catalogue.

My facebook pages are:

https://www.facebook.com/BooksByMaureenLarter

https://www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

https://www.facebook.com/Sweetfields-Publisher

Linkedin : MLarter

Instagram : lartermaureen

Twitter : @MaureenLarter

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