Hello, dear readers! Here's an excerpt from Where the Clouds Catch Fire. Tell me what you think in the comments below!
Alynn woke the next morning not knowing a thing about the Norsemen’s meeting the previous night or their dashed plan to attack the monastery that morning. She went about her morning chores with the newfound joy of salvation in her heart, setting breakfast on the table just as Lukas came in from taking care of the animals.
“I surveyed the blizzard damage,” Lukas remarked, wiping snow off his boots. “Nothing worse than at least four inches of snow, thank the Lord. And…what, may I ask, is this ye’ve set on the table?”
“Parsnip porridge,” Alynn answered, hoping that she didn’t sound too ridiculous. “I finished a bag of oats yesterday, and the root cellar’s snowed over.”
Lukas stirred the pot over the fireplace suspiciously. “Indeed. How’d ye make it?”
“Grated, boiled, and seasoned parsnips,” Alynn answered. “It’s as ready as it’s ever going to be.”
Lukas sat down across from Alynn and bowed his head. “Precious Lord Jesus, we thank Ye fer a good night’s sleep, and fer protecting us during the blizzard last night. Thank Ye fer accepting Alynn into Yer family, and fer another beautiful day to grow closer to Ye and serve Ye. We pray that Ye’d bless this meal and the hands that prepared it—and keep us from food poisoning. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.”
Lukas opened his eyes to see Alynn glaring at him through angry turquoise eyes that snapped diamond sparks. “Food poisonin’?” she repeated. “Really?”
“I’m just teasing ye, but if ye’d just been served stirabout made out of parsnips, ye’d ask the same question.”
“But food poisonin’? Not even Tarin could ruin a parsnip that badly,” Alynn defended. “I’ve already test-tasted it, and I’m still alive. Don’t worry. Just try it.”
As he apprehensively took his first bite, Lukas seemed to choke as he put his hand over his mouth, forcing himself to swallow. “Och, goodness!” Lukas coughed, drinking half his mug of water. “What did ye add to this after ye tested it?”
Surprised, Alynn took a bite of something that had the bitterness of gall and the texture of vomit and spat it back into her bowl. “Faith! Lukas, I’m sorry…you might have been right about the food poisonin’. Will—”
“Alynn, calm down. It’s not that bad—”
“Not that bad, indeed!” Alynn contradicted. “My father could cook better than this! I can’t see how—it was melted snow, parsnips, and parsley, it shouldn’t taste that bad!”
Lukas looked up at her with a start. “We don’t have any parsley.”
Alynn paled. “We don’t?”
“Show me what ye used.”
Alynn got up, picked a bag out of the spice cabinet, and handed it to Lukas. He looked at the leaves inside of it, sniffing them curiously. “This is milfoil, Alynn,” he corrected.
Alynn’s eyes widened in surprise. “What? But—but it looks just like parsley, how can it…?”
“The Lord made it that way, I suppose.”
Alynn took the bag that Lukas handed her, tied it again, and put it away. “I’ll make curds tomorrow.”
“I could always make griddle cakes,” Lukas offered.
Alynn sighed. “I might have to take ye up on that offer. I’ll give this to the pigs.”
“Alynn, ye’ll do no such thing,” Lukas declared. He rose from the table and was at the cupboard before she could object. “Somewhere on the top shelf…in the back…I know we have some honey…there it is.” He sat back down and set a covered jar between them. “We are going to make this work.”
Cautiously, Alynn took a spoonful of honey and stirred it into her porridge. “Is it supposed to be this thick?” she asked. “Does it melt?”
“Ye act like ye’ve never seen honey before.”
“Lukas, I grew up patchin’ clothes with barley sacks, not sippin’ tea with the governor’s daughter. Of course I’ve never seen honey before!”
“Then pardon my asking,” Lukas said, stirring his bowl vigorously and tasting it. “Much better. How’s yer fried cabbage coming?”
“Fish oil doesn’t work. The pigs wouldn’t even eat it.”
Lukas hid his half-smile by taking a drink. “If ye can dig through the snow and get to the root cellar, how does stirabout sound fer tomorrow morning?”
“Better than parsnip porridge.”
“Aye,” Lukas nodded. He picked up his drinking mug. “To fallbacks.”
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.