I originally thought I would come here to my little space in the world, my ‘thyme’, and write about a romantic stroll through the streets of lovely winter time snowy Boston for a Valentine’s Day treat. And I will…but my mind keeps wandering over to a few snippets of unexpected happiness that might just define a day like Valentine’s Day in a bit of a different vein. I’m reflecting on the so tiny daily passings that make me stop, just for a minute, and smile at the world of human nature around us. So as all stories begin here in NH…it was a bitterly cold day…
Yes. It continues to be bitterly cold here in New Hampshire…it is February, I might add. Patrick stayed a little longer in Boston for work. Back here up in New Hampshire, I realized that one task he often does, without ever a complaint, of driving to the transfer station, shoveling buckets full of sand/salt mixtures, and covering our icy path to the barn with it so that we don’t slip on the icy driveway…was up to me to do this time.
I saw the shiny layer of ice shimmering in the teasingly frigid sunlight between the end of my porch and all the way to the big black barn doors which nest my car inside. I procrastinated. I waited a day thinking the ice would miraculously melt away. I wished for those cleat like rubber shoe fittings that go over winter boots and help one to walk on ice that we saw recently at LL Bean. Finally, the need to run errands and get things done pushed me out of the house. I crunched through knee high snow away from the slick ice path to get to the barn. I drove over to the transfer station (also known affectionately as “the dump”) where the village provides us with huge piles of sand/salt mixture to layer on our icy paths at home. I pulled up to the huge pile of sand/salt and began the first time task of shoveling it into the bins that I put in the back of my car. The sand mixture was much heavier than I expected. This wasn’t going to be a quick nor tidy task.
A truck pulled in behind me, waiting its turn, so I sped up my shoveling a bit, anxious not to take too long. But, the sand was really heavy. I brought a shovel that was more like a child’s toy (actually its an antique shovel that I thought was so quaint when I bought it) than anything that would be productive at this moment. Three burly men with more facial hair than can be described adequately sat peering through their very large pick up truck at me. I shoveled a little faster feeling 3 sets of impatient eyes. Without hesitation, however, the 3 burly men, all adorned with even longer amounts of facial hair once they jumped out of their truck, shovels in hand, came over to me and began shoveling scoopfuls of the mixture into my bins.
“Looks like you need a hand!” one man in his 60’s with a mass of curly red beard reaching down to his chest bellowed before his twinkling blue eyes crinkled into a toothy grin. “Thank you so much!” I replied in sincere relief. After failing to adequately get a good fire started in our hearth that morning, grumbling because I then had to haul more firewood from the outdoor pile than usual as a result, and errands piling up because I wouldn’t brave the icy drive…my fretting led me to have my own little self-indulgent pity party as I shoveled away and assumed the 3 men were having a good chuckle in their warm truck at my expense.
My thoughts that these 3 men would get so aggravated that I was using a rather toy-like shovel and would take forever to fill my bins with sand…was wrong. But, as I’ve mentioned before in previous stories, this is New Hampshire for you. I thought yet again to myself how surprisingly generous the people are when I least expect it. I experience moments like this all the time up here in New England and marvel at the sincerity and helpfulness of the people on frigid cold days like this one. It was freezing cold outside and I was diligently exercising the prescribed crankiness. They could have sat all warm and snug in their truck having their good chuckle into their burly beards. But, that’s not what happens here in the granite state.
“There you go, miss! All full and you’re on your way!” declared one of the men, garbed in nothing more than a thick flannel jacket covering blue jean overalls.
I was there all of about 5 minutes (instead of MUCH longer) and then I was indeed on my way, back in my toasty warm car! They jumped back into their truck, pulled it up after me, and got to work filling the back end with their portion of sand…working out there in the bitter cold.
So there you go. A tiny story of Valentine’s sweetness…nothing as grandiose as a tour through the streets of handsome Boston during a beautiful snowstorm…just everyday normal kind of sweet.
Every day normal kind of sweet…is so much sweeter. Thank you guys! Wish I had some of these chocolate thumbprint cookies with little mice on top to give you!
Now…on to a very romantic Valentine’s Day photo story in the heart of beautiful elegant Boston…
Planning a romantic getaway to Boston? Here are links to where I visited:
Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill – wonderful charming gift shop
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup nonpareil sprinkles
- 25 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
- Pour the sprinkles into a small bowl. Roll the balls of dough, about 3 teaspoons of dough per cookie, then roll each ball into the sprinkles to coat. (**My red sprinkles would stick very well. Possibly they were too big for the cookie. I melted a little butter and brushed it on the dough and they stuck just fine) Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Press the chocolate kisses into the center of each cookie. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.