Baker Mac

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans hurried to answer the knock. She smiled as she opened the back door. “Hi, Mrs. Woodson!” she exclaimed. “I’m learning how to make spice cookies. Do you know how hard it is to make all the cookies the same size?”

Mrs. Woodson laughed. “I guess they would all taste good even if they’re not exactly the same size. Did you say I could taste one?”

Mom smiled. She closed the cookbook she was looking at. “Come and sit down,” she said. “Mac will be happy to serve you a cookie.”

Mac plucked a warm, round, crinkly-topped cookie from the cooling rack. She put it on a pink paper napkin and handed it to Mrs. Woodson.

Mrs. Woodson took a bite. “Uum, good!” she said. “Just send any that are too big or too little home with me.” She swallowed. “If I can’t eat them all, I can put them in the freezer and save them for my mission trip.”

“Are you going to Mexico again?” Mom asked.

Mrs. Woodson nodded. “Some of us are going down to paint the little church we helped to build last year.”

“Why didn’t you paint it when you were there?” Mac asked.

“We didn’t have time to,” Mrs. Woodson explained. “We thought we were doing pretty good to get the building up in a week, plus build the benches.”

Mac leaned against the table. “How can you build a whole church in a week?” she asked.

“Well, it doesn’t look like most churches here in the United States,” Mrs. Woodson said. “It has a dirt floor, and it only has three walls.”

“How come you only built three walls?” Mac asked, puzzled.

“It’s cooler that way,” Mrs. Woodson told her. “They don’t get much rain there. It’s pretty much like summer all year around. So without the fourth wall, a breeze can blow in. If there is a breeze,” she added. “It was awfully hot last year when we were there.”

Mac sat down at the kitchen table too. “I wish I could go on a mission trip!” she said wistfully.

“I told you that you can someday,” Mom reminded her. “You just have to be a bit older.”

“I’m older than I was when I woke up this morning!” Mac announced, wiggling her eyebrows.

Mrs. Woodson laughed. “I came by to see if you folks would like to contribute to my trip,” she said. “It’s difficult to afford going on mission trips when a person is retired like I am.”

“Yes, we’d love to,” Mom said, standing up. “I’ll go find my purse.”

“Me too!” Mac said. “But I don’t have any money. But maybe I could earn some,” she said, hopefully.

“That’s OK, Honey,” Mrs. Woodson said, patting her arm.

“No,” Mac insisted. “I really do want to help you go to Mexico and be a missionary. I’ll just have to think of a way to earn some money.” She chewed on her bottom lip and stared at the ceiling.

Mom came back into the kitchen. She gave Mrs. Woodson a $20.00 bill. “I hope this helps you,” she said.

“Thank you very much!” Mrs. Woodson said. “And please remember to pray for our trip too.” She stood up and patted Mac’s shoulder. “Maybe someday you can come with me!”

Mom let Mrs. Woodson out the back door. She sat down again at the table beside Mac.

“There must be something I can do!” Mac exclaimed. “It’s too bad I’m too young to have a real job. It’s too bad it’s not fall so I could rake leaves. And it’s too rainy and wet to get lawn mowing jobs.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Mom said. “I learned to bake bread when I was about your age, and a friend of my father’s always bought one loaf whenever I baked. Would you like me to teach you how to bake bread? I haven’t done it for a long time, but I’m sure I haven’t forgotten how. I don’t think you would have any trouble selling loaves of homemade bread.”

Mac’s eyes lit up. “That’s a great idea!” she shouted. “Can we do it today? Can we do it now? How much could I sell bread for? One dollar?”

Mom laughed. “The bread I usually buy at the grocery store costs more than two dollars a loaf,” she said. “The bakery downtown charges five or even six dollars for one of their big specialty loaves—the kinds with special cheeses or fruit and nuts added.”

“I could get rich!” Mac exclaimed.

“Getting rich is not the point, is it?” Mom asked gently. “Remember that the ingredients cost money. The money you could sell a loaf of bread for wouldn’t be all profit.”

“And I don’t have money to buy ingredients!” Mac wailed.

“Well, I can help you out there,” Mom reassured her. “I’ll tell you what. I will supply the ingredients. I will teach you how to bake bread. And you can give Mrs. Woodson all the money you make from what you sell. How about that?”

“Oh, thank you!” Mac exclaimed. She bounced in her chair. “Can we start now? Can you teach me how to bake bread right now? I’m sure G.M. would buy some! I’m sure Mrs. Pastor Chuck would buy some!”

“OK,” Mom said. “You’ve convinced me. I think baking bread would be much more fun than the vacuuming I had planned. What kind of bread do you want to make? Plain whole wheat bread? White bread? Rye bread? French bread? Dilly bread? Potato bread? Would you like to be creative and invent your own recipe?”

“I want to invent my own recipe!” Mac said.

“I thought so,” Mom said. “I’ll help you wash up the bowls you used for baking cookies, and then we’ll use them for making bread.”

“Couldn’t we just use them without . . . ” Mac began. She giggled when she saw the look on Mom’s face. “I’m just kidding!” she said.

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