So many times during the holidays, when our kitchen smells were the ones I knew as a child, I thought about those simple, happy days in our small town. Mom was a wonderful, creative cook, and she loved to bake. Yeast and cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin were December aromas. Dad made batch after batch of English toffee, and that buttery scent was always present as well. We’d hang around the kitchen in case Mom needed tasters. Each of us had a particular favorite treat.

In our small community people rarely locked their doors. We played outside after dark without fear. The village did take responsibility for its children and we felt safe. In my earliest days many people had telephone party lines which were not very private. Neighbors knew the business and troubles of others, and they shared what they knew. Mostly that was not such a bad thing. Help was offered when needed, and in our farm community, harvests became times of cooperation and celebration.

The mischief we created was innocent. I remember swimming in the small lake near my home. We were not to do that as it wasn’t a swimming lake. I could never understand having a lake without swimming in it, so I ignored the rule. One afternoon, after swimming, I went to marching band rehearsal. When we marched past my home, Mom saw me with my wet, frizzy hair. As expected, I heard about it.

A whistle blew at noon and six o’clock. I’m not sure why that happened as we didn’t have a factory to signal. Kids knew to be home at noon and six when meals were served. Maybe that was the impetus for the sound.

In Bloomington we are an hour’s drive from my home town. I miss having my parents just down the road. Our extended families would delight them. However, the unpleasant events of the recent past would trouble them as they do me. School shootings, terror on the streets, poisoned water supplies, hungry children, people driven from their homelands made unwelcome in this country of immigrants – all would be unbelievable to Mom and Dad. While I miss them, I am grateful they are spared the news of this time.