I have a superhero next door to me. Well, not exactly next door, but just behind my house, up a hill that’s small as the world defines hills but big when you’re walking up the hill. Heather, her husband, and her four kids moved in to the house next door to her parents, who happen to live behind me. Two of her kids are the same age as my kids, and when they were younger, 3 of her kids and my two banded together and roamed the neighborhood, sledded down the “big hill” in the snow, and moved back and forth through the gate in my backyard like crows, not seeing the boundary between the yards.
While still friendly, our kids have moved in different directions, so the nomadic expeditions through the yards have all but stopped and I don’t generally see Heather as much as I used to. It’s strange how we can live within feet of our neighbors and see them so infrequently.
What I appreciate and respect so much about Heather is that, even though her busy life as a realtor, active community member, daughter, sister, wife, and mother keeps her running metaphorically and literally (she participates in all manners of running related races for “fun”), she always has time for me. She always returns my calls, always responds to texts, and has made time for my husband and me on several occasions–talking us off ledges, brainstorming for solutions, using her resourceful strategies to attack a problem, and is always, always quick to help. When the car of your life is deep within a muddy ditch, she’s right there like a superhero ready to assist, with a voice that’s equal parts commiseration and empowerment: “yep, I’ve been here before, here’s how you get the car back on the road and I’ll help you push.”
And it’s one thing to do that for your friends, but Heather does this for anyone. Understandably, she has surely no less than a gazillion friends, because any sensible person is a fan of her kindness and sincere warmth, and quick efforts to actually, literally find ways to help you with her resourceful thinking and somehow, like a super hero, she always makes time for us all.
Today’s Pumpkin Spice cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting and Roasted, Caramel Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt is for Heather and her family. This picture shows the process 3/4 of the way through building what became four layers of moist, tender cake with just the right amount of warm spiciness. Generous but not overwhelming, rich cinnamon cream cheese frosting buffers each layer and blankets the exterior. Salty-sweet pumpkin seeds grace the top.
Just like Heather, it is familiar and comforting, traditional and modern, and all about family and friendship and contentment–a perfect treat for a family gathering on this blustery Fall day.