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Weird stuff happens when I read poetry. Walt Whitman is to blame for this week’s entry. Walt Whitman, and beer.

December 5, 1969.

December 5, 1969. “Make oatmeal squares.”

Have you ever considered cookies — the unceasing sunshine of the baker’s art?

Why do you think they are there? Do they exist only to ripen our waistlines, or to fulfill some higher inviolate principle of heaven’s reward?

I soar over your ovens … I look into your kitchens, America, in sunlight and in early creeping twilight, in the brownstones and the tract homes, lo these many Decembers.

I see what is good; I espy the holly and the mistletoe; the orbs of color on the trees outside, refracting back through the windows; and the cookies on their racks, brown and cooling like the sands of Egypt, and ten times as eternal.

I have supped on your cookies, like the whale on baleen or the new-born babe on milk. I have built my foundations on your flour and butter.

Cookie-bakers, I embrace the whole of you … the queens among you, the peons and the also-rans; those whose cookies quiver with jelly, and those whose cookies sting with cinnamon and clove.

The least of you have fed me with sustenance, just as the greatest of you.

December 15, 1973.

December 15, 1973. “Cookie day.”

Young bride in the Rockies, adjusting the family snickerdoodle recipe to great heights — I embrace you!

Spinster in Passadumkeag,speaking softly in Tcherman to her crop of pfeffernusse — I salute you!

Housewife in Sacramento, rescuing your children from the scourge of storebought — I hail you!

Young man in Topeka, warily venturing a batch of chocolate chip cookies to win a reluctant love — I salute you also, and pat your back, and steel you to success! (You have entered the brotherhood, and stand on the same lofty heights as the canniest cookie baker.)

What purpose have we, really, but cookies? And what true purpose have our December holidays besides cookies?

Nuggets of hospitality, warmth in the winter, welcome filling us outward from the stomach.

October 3-4, 1968.

October 3-4, 1968. “Make fruit bars.”

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