Last month I was home in Missouri helping out with family care and my godmother, Sandy Williams, my dad, and I went on a field trip to a cave near our hometown in Missouri. Yesterday, both Sandy and my dad celebrated their birthdays so I’ve been thinking about them a lot. These two people, along with my mom, truly shaped who I am and how I show up in the world. Their combined efforts of childcare, influence, lessons in boundaries, and leading me by their examples set me up for success. My dad and Sandy are both seekers and doers. They ask the big questions and dig for answers. If something needs to be done - they figure out the best method and get to work on it. My need to know things comes from them. (I think my need to be right also comes from them - they are Class A debaters!)
Our trip to Fantastic Caverns outside of Springfield, MO was a sweet day, not unlike field trips I went on as a little girl. No matter how old or young we were, everyone on the cave tour was amazed. Sandy ended up being my junior high science teacher and I’m sure she taught us a lesson on geology and caves back then. It was fun to be students of the world together and let someone else be our guide. We rode through cavernous rooms filled with spectacular geologic wonders such as stalactites, draperies, and soda straws.
This was the perfect trip to take my dad on too. He can’t see or hear very well, and he also needs a great deal of help getting around. This cave is one of the few caves in the world that is toured by tram - no walking! The trams drive along a path left behind by an ancient river. Even with impaired senses, I know my dad was able to sit and feel the magnitude of the cave around us. Maybe he practiced sense memory from cave visits before...
I love immersive experiences. I love doing things that change the environment around me. The cave was dark, cool and damp. The air smelled both clean and sulpher-y at the same time. It was prehistoric and spooky, yet I also felt incredibly safe. It felt like we were part of some secret of the universe, tucked away deep underground in something so ancient. It was like we were temporarily planted, little seeds that were diving down underground and we would emerge subtly changed.
"Sometimes it takes a long time to feel things. Like years. And when you start to, when the numbness starts to unravel and the new skin is exposed to the heat of the day there are two possible things that can happen: either you wither, and parched - you fumble around for the cool water of acceptance; or you can somehow stand it, and the razor-rays light up the hole that is left, finding seedlings, urging them to get up and grow." -- Francesca Kaplan Grossman
The cool water of acceptance… I love those words so much. I’ve had my friend Francesca’s beautifully written thoughts stowed away on my phone for months waiting for the perfect time to share them. They make me think of that day in the cave with my loved ones. I know I am a grown woman, but I think I’ll always feel like a little girl with Sandy and my dad. They are my heroes, my champions - the ones who encourage me to keep growing even when it seems too dark or too deep or too hard to push up into the light. Who or what keeps you growing? Let them know! Honor them by doing your best.
Cave States. Missouri is indeed a cave state. There are 6,300 recorded caves! When I googled Cave States I was filled with pride that one of my childhood best friend’s (Chris Grabau) St. Louis band came up first! I knew they would be in the search at some point, but they are at the very top! Chris is lauded as one of the most prolific songwriters in the Midwest and the band's offerings are purebred Americana. Check them out!
I made these Date + Seed Butter cookies last week from Sprouted Kitchen. Something about them seems a little prehistoric about them, primitive and bare bones. A perfect snack to take into a cave. I shared them with friends and called them ‘health food store cookies.’ You all know I love my sweets with straight up chocolate and sugar, but these are a great alternative with a betterforyou ingredient list than my typical sugar + eggs + butter + flour concoctions. And they're no bake!
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup unsweetened seed butter (I used almond butter)
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds, optional (I used hemp seeds)
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 3 T. coconut oil, to a liquid
- 1 Tbsp.. maple syrup
- 3 T. cocoa powder
Put the dates and oats in a food processor and pulse a dozen times until well chopped and sticky. Add the seed butter, chia seeds, pinch of salt and cinnamon and pulse a few more times. If the mixture looks dry and crackly, add a splash of water or coconut oil, and pulse again until combined. (Mine was so dry -I added coconut oil AND maple syrup!)
Line a plate with parchment paper. Roll the mixture into small, tablespoon-ish, sized balls. Press the centers down with the tins of a fork, cross-hatched if you wish. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
In a small bowl, stir together the coconut oil, maple, and cocoa powder. Dip the cold cookies, halfway, into the cocoa mix. Replace them back on the plate and refrigerate again to chill. Keep them stored in the fridge until ready to eat. (They will melt outside of the fridge!)