Nutmeg.Â Cinnamon.Â Sugar.Â The apple peelings curled around my paring knife, bleeding juice and leaving sticky fragrance on my hands.Â I rolled the piecrust into two, thin, lopsided shapes as little puffs of flour dust settled everywhere.Â It was mindless work, but I needed this routine, this place of comfort, as I processed the shootings at Sandy Hook.
When I was a child my school was small, much smaller than Sandy Hook, and everybody knew everybody.Â A simple rectangular building made of brick and wood and community dreams housed K-12 grades.Â There were pie socials after class plays, music presentations, and parent-teacher conferences.Â Any excuse worked, really, if it meant gathering to gossip and compare lives in the rural quiet. Â The thought that someone could walk in and massacre innocent children and staff was inconceivable. Â In high school I remember a bomb threat or two, but after a brief search by staff we all returned to class.Â I always suspected it was someoneâ€™s prank to get out of a test as opposed to an actual threat to do harm.
What has changed, I wonder now.Â Certainly people owned guns back then, mostly hunting rifles and shotguns. Â If we wanted to go hunting we had to take gun trainingâ€¦it was nonnegotiable.Â I can remember upperclass students with gun cases in their vehicles because they were going hunting after school hours.Â It didnâ€™t seem strange that they brought guns to the school grounds.Â It seemed practical because the fall days had limited daylight hours.
Nobody I knew had a handgun for security, or any other reason, for that matter.Â And yet doors were left unlocked and keys could be found in the ignition of vehicles.Â Well, okay, I take that back.Â Much later, after I left home a neighbor became a police officer and he had a handgun.
Where there mentally challenged folk in the area? Â Yes.Â Head injuries, genetic defects, and just odd, eccentric, behavior dwelled peacefully within our farming community.Â Most with disabilities stayed at home with their families and were expected to contribute as best they could.Â The current flood of pharmaceutical controls was absent.Â If children were restless in the classroom a recess period was never far off.Â Energy was spent running, playing, and laughing, rather than drugged out of existence.Â Childrenâ€™s aspirin for a persistent fever, the occasional dose of cough syrup, or perhaps the much-hated cod liver oil for general health was about as pharmaceutical as it got.
The Sandy Hook shootings shook me deeply.Â There is no answer, no sense to be made of the outcome, and I fumble for something tangible to do that will overcome the evil and sadness.Â I watched my husband help an elderly stranger yesterday.Â He offered her his arm, got her safely to her car, and put her walker inside.Â I witnessed our church congregation take up a spontaneous collection to help a young man who is also unknown to us.Â He is here from another country getting his seminary degree, but hasnâ€™t the money to pay his tuition and is now homeless.Â My husband said it felt good to be doing somethingâ€¦anythingâ€¦to promote good in mankind, and I had to agree.
My apple pieâ€¦hot and drizzled with caramel sauceâ€¦ went to our neighbor who does so many kindnesses for us.Â He was thrilled with his gift, and I was thrilled to feel normal again, for even a brief bit of time.