Making time for yourself is not always easy. Sometimes it takes a shift in thinking. When I was a kid, walking the dog was a chore rather than a coveted opportunity. Today…now…in “grown-up” world, walking the dogs provides an hour of reflective, uninterrupted time. I leave my phone at home, I take time to look around and notice my surroundings. Most days, it is an opportunity my husband and I have to spend an hour chatting, laughing, or discerning between plans we’ve made and dreams we share. On some occasions, it’s simply a peaceful unwinding after a day of work.
Over the times I’ve taken the dogs walking on my own, I have come to recognize a few landmarks. Kind of like the dogs do…they know where their favorite smells are, their favorite spot to hop in the river, the different turns we make, etc. I know that at the one mile mark I will be crossing an old train bridge, and I make time to consider the life teeming in the river below. At 1.44 miles we pass the house where Otis lives (a big, tawny-colored dog who greets us with barks no matter what time of day we stroll by). At the two mile mark we look to see if our Chocolate Lab friend, Gunner, is out in his yard.
But before we reach those marks, before we trek across the old train bridge or look both ways when crossing the road, at the .84 mile mark to be precise, we pass the backyard of a home that smells of rich, heavenly boiling chocolate. Every day. Without fail. I breathe it in as if it were the last breath I will ever take. I close my eyes and try to imagine the source of the scent. Images of chocolate truffles, chocolate budino, sheet pan brownie thins, Mackinaw Island Fudge, black bottomed cupcakes, and chocolate mousse all drift rather bewitchingly through my mind before the leashes yank and I am pulled beyond the most delicious smelling house I’ve ever encountered.
I don’t know what they do in there, if there is some magical chocolate factory in production mode in the middle of a quiet little residential area, but I do know they could make a fortune if they could simply bottle the smell and sell it to passersby. Like a lemonade stand, only better.
After this morning’s doggie walk (the residents of The Chocolate House are even boiling chocolate in there at 90 degrees with 61% humidity, then somehow piping the fragrance into and beyond their backyard), I decided to fill my home with the same mouth-watering aroma. With the heat index such as it is, turning the oven on was not an option. It might not be an option for the next three months (when somehow the weather will make an instantaneous shift from unbearable heat to snow and ice piling up in my yard). For a moment I considered using the grill…I’ve baked bread on the grill, why not chocolate cake?
And then it occurred to me…No Bake Chocolate Cookies. Even now, they are a favorite among all of our kids (one of them texted earlier from North Carolina trying to understand why this recipe wasn’t already on the website). And best of all, if neighbors and dogwalkers brave the sweltering heat to stroll past our front yard…they will breathe in the smell of boiling chocolate and our house will become the next Chocolate House legend that circulates around the neighborhood.