Throughout my childhood, my grandfather owned a bakery. Any time my mother needed to talk to her father, she’d drop in while he was at work, me and/or my older sister in tow. Usually, we’d find Papa K. decorating a cake. (All present day cake-centric reality programs aside, I now realize I lucked into a front-row ticket to a sugary magic show, where racetracks and roses and mermaids in poses appeared in an instant… But I digress.)
“Children should be seen, and not heard.” Yes, my Millennial friends, that quote is real. The kindest people – grandmothers, even – used to regularly say those exact, heartless words. While my mother and grandfather talked, he’d open the bucket where only cake trimmings were tossed, select a healthy-sized discard, smother the slice with whipped cream from the whipped cream bucket (I told you, sugary magic show), then feed it into my conveyor-belt hands, which delivered the silencing treat into my non-speaking mouth.
“Finished before the conversation ended, growing boy? Here’s another slice… You’re welcome. Now hush.”
My grandfather entered the world in July of 1916. The National Park Service – despite gestating more than twice as long – followed soon after, in August of 1916. Linking these two with a cake may seem arbitrary, but consider this list:
- 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of their births.
- This cake resurrects* the recipe my grandfather baked all our family birthday cakes.
- One gave me life and taught me to work; the other reminds me that work is not my life.
- My grandfather used to buy my silence with cake.
- This cake represents me now having something to say.
- Let’s talk about National Parks*!
* Well, kinda. But we’ll get to that.
Psalm 96:11-12 (NIV)
11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.