Sugar and Spice

A little bit of history is like a little bite of dessert, whether before or after the meal. A little bite is a usually sweet, satisfying and enticing step from the staples into another art form, a treat. A special taste of art, craft, hand, work integrated into a new form that delights. At least that’s the idea. When the idea comes to life, Ah! Wow, we say. That’s delicious! The memory lingers exquisitely.

This holiday season Emily Hicks has been busy baking with a flourish infused with her excitement: tortes, pies, cheesecakes, scones, cinnamon rolls, some brightened by beautiful pomegranate seeds or sugared orange zest, some with rich chocolate and ginger.

Did you know sugar was once considered a spice not a sweetener?

Sugar, like the General Store, and like Emily Hicks and every other staff member, has its own history: of growth, processing, development, and consumption. We show ourselves our attraction to sweetness and all it can mean every day. The best aspects are, I believe, the purest ones, whether in relationship to people or substance:  to understand and appreciate their part in our lives.

Small packets, bytes, spoons full, may help us swallow and digest any temporary distemper or challenge that may face us. Our spirits lift. We delight in what is magical, in what stirs our senses in ways that we find pleasant, warm, and lovely, even delicious.

Knowing a little bit of history, I believe, adds sweetness to life, and to a community’s life. Designers and artists (including bakers) know that the story of the presented product or image is an intrinsic part of its offering, its beauty, function—its delights. This General Store, in its 10-year tenure with Jeff Barney and Cameron Ratliff, has its flavorful history too. From the process of perfecting the envisioned biscuit recipe to hosting amazing “pop-up” dinners; from envisioning and making a new footprint as a village hub with local-vendor supply to first-class catering delivery, flavors recede and emerge, as the river flows. Every day is a new day. The Store, staff, community “builders” and visitors have created a presence, an essence that continues to define itself organically as we envision, plan, and interact. The village that eats together grows together.

Along with the Saxapahaw Museum, the story of Saxapahaw’s growth is documented nicely in Heather Wallace’s Images of America: Saxapahaw (2009). Wallace’s book is a wonderful collection of photographs and histories of the people and places that are the Saxapahaw story. Just as industrial designer Richard Seymour describes, a pencil drawing of a flower and a butterfly evokes different or more intense emotions when we learn that the drawing was the last act of a five-year-old girl dying of cancer. Our stories live as we respond to and share them. As I read about the visioning, the building, the creation and revitalization of this Mill hub and look at the pictures of those whose labors generated new ideas and reinforced the bonds of a village as a “family,” I feel even more inspired as I recognize names and some faces in the pages. It feels good to learn and to celebrate each other more. Personalities are vital ingredients for growth.

From house-made biscuits and scones, to beautiful oyster mushrooms freshly delivered, to community greens, microbrews, and handmade soaps and tinctures, we are grateful to be in such a buzzing hub of love as work and constant creation.

Happy New Year, everyone, and thank you for your love and support!  We appreciate each of you and look forward to seeing you the next time.

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