ONCE UPON A THYME there lived a wood cutter and his daughter. They dwelt in the middle of the woods where the trees were as tall as towers and the birds sang the sweetest songs. The wood cutter and his daughter did not have much but the daughter never knew it. She felt as rich as a queen. She never wanted for a thing and every day was very happy and grateful. One day, the wood cutter fell ill. He could not make the daily trip to the market for a loaf of bread. The daughter asked to go by herself. She had never left the forest before and was curious to know the world. The wood cutter did not want her to leave. The outside world is filled with dark magic, warned the wood cutter. Nothing is what it seems. But the daughter begged and pleaded.
Finally, the wood cutter agreed. He gave her just enough money for a single loaf of the cinnamon banana bread that they ate together for breakfast every morning. The daughter was overjoyed. She hugged her hands against her heart and promised her father that she would return home soon. And then off she went. The road to the market was very long. By the time the daughter reached her destination she looked a mess. Her old shoes were worn and soiled. Her clothes were ripped and tattered. She walked around the market and marveled at the fancy items. She tried on cloaks the color of rubies and rings that sparkled like dewdrops in the morning light. How beautiful she would be if only she could afford to buy these items. The daughter looked down at her ripped dress and dirty shoes and began to cry.
She cried so hard that she caught the attention of a troll. You are too lovely to weep, said the troll. No, I am not, said the daughter. I am a mess. My shoes are dirty and my clothes are ripped yet I can not afford to buy any of these items at the market. Take this key to the cave of transformed tears. When you unlock the door and step inside, your tears will turn into golden coins, said the troll. Then you can buy whatever you like and you will be the most beautiful girl in all of the land.
But I promised my father I would return home soon, said the daughter. I can’t go to the cave of transformed tears. Your father will love you more if you return home with endless riches, said the troll, handing her a key. Take the white stone path to the tallest tree and turn the key into the lock. The daughter skipped down the white stone path imagining all of the items that she would buy with her new fortune. Crystal goblets, silken jackets, seashell hair combs! They were almost too wonderful for words. She would buy them all and once she did, she would finally become the most beautiful girl in all of the land. The daughter twisted the key into the lock. As soon as she entered into the cave, the key broke in two. Now she would have no way out. She cried and cried until the tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. But they did not turn into golden coins. The tears were only tears. Suddenly, the daughter saw a bright flicker of light. It was the troll.
Please, let me out from this cave, said the daughter. You tricked me! My tears are not transforming into riches and the key has broke in two. Young lady, said the troll. You have the key. The answers are inside of you. You will have seven days and seven nights to find the way or else you will be locked inside the cave forevermore.
Please, wailed the daughter once more. But the troll had disappeared. The daughter sat alone in the dark. She leaned against the cold cave wall and closed her eyes. She was about to start crying again when she felt a sudden softness against her cheek.
An ugly moth! Why is it fluttering about me, wondered the daughter. Silly moth! There is no light in this cave. She shooed the moth away. When the moth had disappeared the daughter once again felt so lonely that she began to sob. She cried and cried until she fell fast asleep.
The next day, the daughter felt the moth’s wings graze once more against her cheek. Silly moth, there is no light in this cave, said the daughter again. But the moth fluttered around her face and this time, tickled her ear.
For the first time, the daughter began to laugh. The more that she laughed, the faster the moth flitted about her. The scent of cinnamon flooded her nostrils. The daughter gasped. The smell reminded her of the bread that she ate every day with father, the wood cutter. She touched her cheek and realized the cinnamon was falling off from the moth’s delicate wings. The more the daughter sang and laughed, the more the moth fluttered, and the stronger the scent of cinnamon became.
Feeling suddenly brave, the daughter stood up and began to walk in the darkness.
She walked and walked, following the heavy scent of cinnamon until she came to a small opening of light. In the soft brightness, the daughter could see the moth still ahead of her. She followed. The fragile insect led her to a small lake where the water was as clear as glass. The daughter cupped her hands and bent over to take a drink. For the first time, the daughter truly saw herself. Her hair was still wild and her clothes were still torn, but she noticed the brightness in her eyes and the color in her cheeks and the freckles on her nose. She was more beautiful than all of the sparkling rings and jewel toned cloaks at the market. Beautiful in a way that coins could not buy. The daughter smiled at herself and then followed the long road all the way back home.
Note: CINNAMON has long been associated with having magical properties such as protection and prosperity. In THE CINNAMON MOTH, the daughter’s favorite scent finds her only after she taps into the special lightness that is always inside of her, a radiance so vibrant it helps her to escape out of the darkest cave. Reap the powers of cinnamon for yourself with this delicious bread.
This recipe has been adapted from Joy the Baker Dark and Stormy Banana bread found here https://joythebaker.com/2016/04/one-skillet-dark-and-stormy-banana-bread/. I love how she used one pan for the whole recipe and this bread makes for a great treat to begin an auspicious day!
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