April reminds me of my mother. It's the cruelest month.
April has the adage of rain, the promise of drowning if you're not too careful and the beautiful May flowers grow in your place. One time I sunk so deep into the creek bed behind my house, I felt turtle eggs break beneath my bare feet. It had rained for two days and I wanted to see the apple trees scatter their blossoms like ashes. I ran inside screaming, I cleaned mud from my soul the rest of the week. April stays muggy and wet, it drags the nights on and sometimes it can be ten the morning, but the sun hasn't shined since five the day before. I haven't called my mother in three days, the cruelest month to wait for a reply. Rain clouds have a way of scattering all the cats-eye marbles of light, space-time.
If March meant to anticipate, April means to open, to bloom, to blossom. I saw the ivy stretch her wicked vines over a chain link fence, growing inches from the previous day. I watch it strangle the latch, shredded in places where the hinge breaks it. It heals, undisturbed. These weeds grow outside their season, they celebrate the carefree Texas lawn maintenance. They capitalize on the sunlight and quiver in their quiet way when the wind howls, when the moth lands to rest at dusk. I brought scissors one morning and cut them back, put them in a Chinese take-out bag. I was scared of the grotesque persistence of nature and its indifference to metalwork and fortitude. The bag repeated unapologetically, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you."
I walk Milo each morning, sometimes twice. He doesn't see the world as cruel, nor as beautiful. He hardly sees the world at all, too busy with his head in tall grass and smiling at me for approval. We walk fast on crosswalks, we slow down by church parking lots. He growls at the shadows, I try to avoid eye contact with all things alive. He runs up the stairs in my apartment building and knows the door to the right of the landing is mine. I open the door and he watches the rain from the windowpane, head cocked down and to the side. I bake a cake while he explores. April was never the cruelest month, but the ivy will be back by morning.
Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon-Rose Glaze
or the Cake (adapted from here)
- 1 1/2 cup sticks butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 whole eggs, plus one yolk
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup half 'n half
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of half a lemon
- Preheat oven to 350, Fahrenheit. Properly grease a 10-cup bundt pan (the rose one is especially a favorite of mine, made by Nordic Ware)
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream on medium-high butter and shortening, until light and whipped
- With mixer still on, gradually add sugar. It will be crumbly, but make sure it is all well-incorporated
- Then, add three eggs and yolk, one at a time. All mixer to incorporate each egg before adding the next
- In a separate bowl, sift baking powder, salt, and flour together
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk half 'n half, buttermilk, extract, and lemon zest together.
- Alternate between pouring the dry mixture and the wet mixture into the egg-and-butter mixture, allowing time to incorporate before adding new ingredients in. This will prevent clumping and not homogenizing the batter properly
- Turn off stand mixer and, with a rubber spatula, give a couple gentle stirs to the bottom of the bowl, to ensure the attachment didn't miss any of the dry components in the bottom.
- Pour into prepared bundt ban, bake for 35-40 minutes* or until a toothpick comes out clean
- Allow to cool completely (and upside down!) before trying to release
- Serve with glaze (see below)
For the glaze:
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoon half 'n half
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water
- In a small bowl, mix all ingredients with a a fork or small whisk. Add a little more sugar to thicken, or thin out with more liquid ingredients. Drizzle over cake with a spoon, and enjoy!