About a month ago, a few friends and I wandered through the canyon below my house. In one of the grassy meadows, some other hiker had stacked large, flat white stones, one on top of the other in a tower that was taller than any of us. One of my friends, a recent Japanese immigrant, told us that in Japan, this is how the commemorate the death of a child. They don't stack stones for adults, he told us, but only for children.
One stone stacked on top of the other.
Right now, I'm shoring up stones of memories. I don't have many, for my young friend who recently died did not have a long life, nor did I know him for as long as I have known many others. But I knew him for half of his life, and for him, that must have felt long.
Here's a stone for the time—he was so little then—he left the comfort of his mother and aunt and walked down that long hallway with me, crying the whole while. Snot smeared his cheek. Here's a stone for him rolling his eyes then chanting the books of the Bible with a smirk that said, "See how much I know?" And another for the time he told me he wished he could teletransport to the 60s so he could jam with Jimi Hendrix. My most recent stone: Saturday before Easter, he cracked a few jokes with me outside among the flowers. His dreds caught the mist of the still-chilly morning, and he smiled his beautiful smile. That's the stone I'm going to put on top because that's the one I want to look at most.
Carrot Cake or Cupcakes for a Beautiful Boy
Today, we celebrated the twelve years of his life. Afterward, we gathered together and remembered him with foods, his favorites.
This is my mom's old recipe, and I have no idea of its origin before that. I usually make it as a cake, a lovely three layer cake with lots and lots of cream cheese frosting. The recipe makes two dozen flat-topped cupcakes. A rich, moist, complex-tasting cake, it is made particularly special with the addition of crushed pineapple.
You will need:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups grated carrots (about 3 1/2 large carrots, or 11 ounces of carrots)
1 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stir together the first 5 ingredients until completely combined. In another bowl, whip together the sugar, oil, and eggs until they are thoroughly blended. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined, then stir in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts.
If making cupcakes, use a large spoon to ladle the batter into your lined muffin or cupcake pans, filling until about 7/8ths full. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes. If making cakes, grease and flour your three cake pans, then pour the batter evenly into each. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Let the layers or cupcakes cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting, made soft and creamy, just the way he liked it.