Saturday morning started with a lazy lie-in, but a late stroll meant the horses at a nearby lodge might be in the pasture. Sure enough, on the return walk, they were let loose. For the first several minutes (no camera) their hooves pounded the earth as they ran back and forth, no doubt enjoying the freedom of a morning gallop. By the time I got my camera and returned, breakfast had taken priority over putting on another show for me.
I can watch horses for hours.
No matter their color, horses are remarkable and beautiful creatures.
White horses have great cultural, spiritual, and mythological meanings, including "purity, heroism, spiritual enlightenment, and the triumph of good over evil." Heroism certainly fits the men and women in Hopes & Dreams in Whitcomb Springs, which is why it's fitting for a white horse to be front and center on the cover.
What does raspberry coffee cake have to do with a fictional mountain town in Montana? Well, Montana became home to a variety of immigrants during the 1800s, and they brought with them traditions for home, hearth, and family. American coffee cake likely evolved from variations created by immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia. Over time, yeast in these cakes were replaced by other ingredients like yogurt, sour cream, and cheese, eventually ending up with our common sour cream coffee cakes.
And yes, at one point Americans did use coffee in their coffee cake (perhaps some still do), though the name is because it is intended to be eaten with coffee or tea.
Did they serve coffee cake in homes in Whitcomb Springs? Certainly a version of it.
A Passage from
A novelette in Hopes & Dreams in Whitcomb Springs
Gwen buttered one half of a biscuit and smoothed a layer of jam on top before holding it out for Clayton. His surprise evident, he accepted her offering, and she prepared the other half for herself. “I am not an invalid, but it was kind for Evelyn to send you with this. It still begs the question: Why did she allow you to come here alone?”
Clayton finished the biscuit before speaking. “That’s another question, and I’m still deciding if I’ll answer the first.”
She swallowed her second bite, chewed, and then said, “I’ve asked a few. Will you respond to any of them?”
“I didn’t give Evelyn much choice about letting me come here. It was difficult enough waiting in your sitting room while she helped you into your sleeping gown. If it soothes your nerves, she and Daniel are on the front porch, waiting for me. Much longer and they’ll charge in to make sure you’re all right.”
“Mmm. I wonder.” Gwen sat back against the pillow. “How do you know them?”
“From a long time ago.”
“Daniel did not sound happy to see you.”
“There’s a lot of history between our families.”
Gwen waited a few heartbeats for him to elaborate. “You are not free with information.” She waved away whatever he was about to say. “Never mind. I should not be so inquisitive. I’m told it is one of my greatest flaws.”
“I would have said nosy.”
Clayton spoke so softly, Gwen almost missed it. She grinned, unperturbed by his assessment. “My mother described it exactly the same way.” Her grin faded, and she studied him with great interest, from eyes the color of a summer forest to the beard two shades darker than his sun-touched hair. Pain carved a path around his eyes and she wanted desperately to know what had caused it. “Thank you for helping me.”
His acknowledgment was a slight nod.
“What were you doing at the lake?”
“Deciding if I wanted to come into town.”
“I rather forced your hand.”
Clayton leaned forward and rested his forearms on his thighs. “You forced nothing. Given the circumstances, I can understand your curiosity—”
“Please, forgive the interruption.” Gwen held up a hand for a few seconds before letting it fall back to her side on the quilt. “My curiosity is just that. I have no right to pry into your reasons for being here or into your history with the Whitcombs.”
“I don’t mind your curiosity, not really.” He smiled and sat back. “I was writing and sketching on the cliff above the lake.”
A rosy blush colored Gwen’s fair skin. She did not ask how long he had watched her swim, and he did not offer a confession. His handling of her person left no question as to how much of her he had already seen. Gwen recalled wearing her dress, stockings, and shoes when she awakened on the padded table in the clinic. She only now remembered that she had been without a corset. Her fingers instinctively searched for the chain and ring she always wore, and found it pressed against her heart. “I’m grateful you were there.”
I hope you make time every now and then to escape into a good book and relax. We are too often pressured to keep up grueling work paces, either from necessity or expectation, and forget that the quiet moments of peace are often even more important.
The Book: Hopes & Dreams in Whitcomb Springs
The Beverage: Vita-Blend Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs
From the Kitchen: You can find the recipe in Cast-Iron Baking by Brooke Michael Bell. This cookbook is filled with many delicious recipes, so if you enjoy baking, it's well worth buying.
Thank you for visiting!
If you missed it on my Instagram page, here are the horses lazily grazing and swishing their tails. Whether running, rolling, or basking in the sun, horses are a beautiful and calming sight.
You can find more great recipe links, PDFs, and posts organized on my recipes page.