Fritii snapped out of her doze, startled. Between the warmth of her six nestlings, her grandmothers’ quilts, and the spring sun streaming in through the knothole, it had been near impossible to stay awake. Her little ones were sleeping–finally, after emptying all of the nearby caches–and her exhaustion had finally overtaken her.
She recognized her son’s approaching voice, and relaxed slightly. Only slightly, however–Peter recently had been developing a lot of hare-brained ideas about starting a delivery business with that goose friend of his. Which would mean hiring Hunters. Which made her uneasy. Her boy had promise as a Soothsinger, but was only fledged a year ago, and had much to learn about the world. She prayed the business fantasies remained just that.
A flutter of grey feathers in the entryway settled themselves into the familiar shape of Reet, her mate. Fritii lifted her feathers in affection as he moved into the nest, holding something in his bill.
“MA!!” A second flurry of grey feathers obscured the cavity’s entrance as Peter landed beside his father. “MA! Pa and I got you–a beetle bun! The first one of the year!!”
Fritii raised her crest in pleased surprise. “A beetle bun, darling?” She hadn’t had her favorite treat–crunchy and nutty on the outside, soft and juicy in the middle–since last year’s beetle harvest.
“YEAH!!” Peter raised every feather on his body until he looked almost perfectly round. “The baker migrated back two days ago–we got in before even the bluebirds!”
Reet stepped into the cavity with the bun, still steaming. “A little quieter, Peter,” he said softly. “Your little siblings are sleeping.” He leaned in, setting the bun on the edge of the nest, and gave Fritii’s brow a brief, affectionate touch of his bill. “Why don’t you go visit some of the caches for your mother? Only come back with your crop full!”
Peter’s eyes lit up. “Okay!” In a moment he was gone, and blessed quiet filled their nest cavity.
Fritii closed her eyes and lowered her crest. “Thank you, brightheart,” she whispered. “Peter is a good fledgling, but also a loud fledgling.” None of the nestlings had awoken, mercifully.
“It’s likely Bronk’s influence,” Reet said good-naturedly, and nudged the bun, steam rising from it temptingly, towards her. “Enjoy, love. You deserve it and more.”
Happy Mothers’ Day, everyone! Bring your mom a beetle bun–she’ll love it!
(Fun fact: tufted titmice sometimes do hang around for a year to be “helpers” with their parents’ next breeding season! They do not exchange currency for insect-filled pastries, however.)
We all do this, right? We fumble, we ask friends for help, we hope for the best. Unlike cooking, which can often be fiddled with along the way, checked and rechecked and iterated, baking involves precision and a kind of prayer: it’s in the oven; there’s nothing you can do. You are hoping for success, and in its absence, you are hoping for support.
What emerges over the course of the show is that it doesn’t only have a style; it has an ethic. Mary and Paul do not fall victim to the misdirection of small but spectacular-looking mistakes. If the custard in the middle of whatever you’re making doesn’t quite set, the entire thing may collapse and run all over the counter, but they’ll taste it anyway! And they’ll tell you that your custard not setting isn’t necessarily a bigger mistake than anything else; it just looks worse. If you can’t get your cake put together, they’ll still taste the layers. You may not be out. Do not lose heart. Do not lose heart.
Don’t laugh, but this is life, in a way, as we all hope for it to be. You screw up, but not entirely. You see your hoped-for result dashed on the counter in a pile of goop, but someone says, “I see what you put into this; I see what you intended.” Someone you trust who is better than you are at whatever you’re trying to do says, “We both see what you did wrong; I can help you identify what you did right.” You still might lose. You still might go home crying with disappointment. But someone will have said, “Next time, take it out of the oven five minutes sooner and you’ll really have something.” It’s a show of such…hope. Hoping everybody else is going to be willing to try the imperfect layers of your particular not-quite-put-together cake is often the only way to get through the day, after all.
Peeta popped his head into the living room where Katniss
reclined on the couch. “I’m going to start filming for my channel. You need
She shook her head and ran her hand over her stomach. The
baby was due in just a few weeks and he knew she was ready for it all to be
done. “I’m fine. Gale and Prim are coming over later, so don’t make a huge
He gave her a smile. “I clean up the kitchen better than
you, sweetheart.” He winked and went into the kitchen.
The camera was set up and ready to go. Peeta leaned close
after he turned it on and spoke softly. “As you all know by now, my wife is
just days away from giving birth to our first baby. And since Mother’s Day is
today, I’m going to surprise her with a special treat: pear upside-down cake.
With chocolate cake.”