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Sweet cycle

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I sit with an Oreo cookie, attempting to meditate on its wonder. I have every intention of eating this Oreo with luxurious indulgence, taking my time to analyze and appreciate it. Instead, I consume it whole, soon enough reaching for another. "Did I even break that cookie in half to see which side the creamy center was on?" I ask myself. "How could I have neglected to scrape the cream off with my teeth? Did I entirely forget to nibble?"

For me, the mystery of the Oreo cookie died long ago with my childhood. Though I've known this for decades, it is still hard to accept because it also means I can no longer hold just one M&M on my tongue until the coating is gone. No longer can I break off just one square of a Hershey bar at a time or take five minutes to relish a piece of melt-in-my-mouth fudge. Instead, I simply eat it and move along to the next item.

Of all the sweets of my childhood, there was no rival for my grandmother's fudge. On Saturday evenings after supper, my five siblings and I would head up the country road to her house for our evening of Gunsmoke, stove-top popcorn and—if we were lucky—homemade fudge. If indeed fudge was in the plan, my grandmother would take the small square pan out of her refrigerator and place it on the kitchen table just before we headed back down the road. We gathered around as she peeled back the waxed paper and slowly cut the chilled fudge into small squares. Hand outstretched, I would wait my turn and then hold my piece up to my face for the first deep, dark and delicious smell.

That was only the start of my process: I would then take small nibbles from the sides, working my way around and moving my fingers to keep ahead of my teeth. And then at last came the 10-finger lick. The fudge was gone. As we walked along the dark road home, I would be very quiet, running my tongue around the inside of my mouth, searching for the last taste of the best fudge in the world.

When did I lose the joy of such things? At some point in the confusion and chaos of growing up, that ultra-sensory, slow-motion experience of sweet aroma, rich texture and precious ownership slipped away. As I reach for another Oreo now, I can only suppose I have substituted quantity for quality. That gain is such a loss.

There's hope, though; this year, I will become a grandmother, so I'll need to find that fudge recipe soon. It's now my job to perfect the slow peeling of the waxed paper, the cutting of the squares and the delivery into little waiting hands. Perhaps, through the eyes of my grandchild and in the simpler world of my own aging, I can recapture that sweet joy.

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