There is cream and milk, pure maple syrup and vanilla waiting in the kitchen. It'll soon be simmered together and stored in a glass jar in the fridge and I'll have homemade coffee creamer that I like to think is better for me than the store bought stuff. I'm not so sure it's a win for the body, but it's a win for the mind.
There's something about pouring that homemade concoction of four simple ingredients into my mug and watching the dark black turn soft brown that settles me each morning. The creamer takes a few moments of intentional time to make and I stand at the stove and stir the milk and maple in slow figure-eights and listen to the now familiar morning sounds of my life - children playing on a playground at one nearby church, bells ringing from another.
Living here, feet from centuries of national history, is the second big move of my life. The first time it was more like everything of my dreams: an exciting new place, new discoveries around every corner. This time it's quite different. Pennsylvania and I are not instant soul mates. I'm trying to find things about her that I love (zooming down narrow tree lined roads, the bustling farmers market), but it is not love at first sight. I am having to choose to love Pennsylvania. The reason I came here is still great - I'm very much enjoying grad school - the classes and professors and classmates. I'm loving the non-profit where I'm serving as part of a scholarship. But outside of those moments I am still learning to be me here.
The creamer is not really a cost-saver on my grad school budget (pure maple syrup is expensive). It's not an old ritual for my life (in fact, PA is the first place I've made it.). I don't rush to make it whenever we run low (more like I'm settling for the last few drops of milk in my coffee even though the ingredients for the creamer are ready to go).
Maple syrup and heavy cream keep me grounded. They are the first things that have made me feel at home here.