I had my own little "Pavlov's Dog" moment this weekend.
With a weather forecast for snow, and an unscheduled weekend on tap, I found myself in the grocery store Friday evening, loading up with chocolate, sugar, flour, spices.
It snows. I bake.
While I've been known to throw together a pie, or pop a cheesecake in the oven even when the weather's warm, in the winter I go crazy for cooking.
It seems appropriate to have a big kettle of soup of the stove when the flurries are, well, flurrying. It's only natural to pop some popovers in the oven when the wind's whistling.
And candy is just dandy when the mercury's dropping like a rock.
Luckily, it's almost time to start filling up the freezer for holiday gatherings, so my cold weather baking pasttime will go to good use. Last winter, of course, I found myself up to my eyebrows in cookies and cakes and candy -- with all the snowstorms we had, my family should be 50 pounds heavier than we are. Fortunately, none of us overindulge in the byproduct of my wintertime weakness. And, as much as I love to cook and bake, I could do with a lot less of those white weekends that we had last winter!
My niece sent out the e-mail last week, "What do you want for Christmas?"
My mind went blank.
"World peace and the love of my family," I wrote back in reply.
It's really nice to be at a point in your life when the prospect of long days spent laughing with family and friends, good food and conversation trumps the thought of any gift.
The note did remind me that, despite the wonderfully long stretch of Indian summer we had, it's time to make that list and check it twice.
While you're busy getting your Christmas lists together, remember that you can get just about anything on it right here in Spencer, from your friends and neighbors who serve in the retail community.
Saving time and money during this hectic season sounds good, and that's what you'll do when you cross those gifts off your list from local stores.
By shopping at home, I find I've got even more time to, yup, bake!
We did get good news yesterday on the state of the economy, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 1.2 percent last month. That was nearly double the gain that had been expected and the largest increase since March. Much of the strength came from a big rise in auto sales. Excluding autos, retail sales rose a more modest 0.4 percent.
October represented the fourth straight increase in retail sales after sales had fallen in May and June. While those declines had raised worries about the economic recovery, the latest news is an encouraging sign.