State quarters, minus Alaska. Pocket knives. Possible fossil. Spring-loaded snake, packed into its candy tin. Juggling balls. Basketball. Baseball, signed. Glove and cleats and shinguards and helmets and goggles and high-tops and low-tops, in a heap. Trophies, ribbons, certificates. Monopoly. Legos. Pinch pots. Dog portraits. Sister photo. Guitar, unstrummed. Poker chips. Skateboard. And books. Many, many books.
He starts with the books. He stacks: The never-read giveaways here, the graphic-novel keeps there. In between tower the treasures: the books so bound to boyhood that he cannot let them go. Nor, he declares, can they stay.
And so we box. Goodnight Frog. Goodnight Toad. Goodnight Mike and your Mary Anne. Goodnight Babar, and The Red Balloon. Goodnight Curious George. Goodnight wild things. And that truck, always stuck. Goodnight Fox in Socks. Goodnight poems. Goodnight air. Goodnight pancake books, everywhere.
Once, the boy leaned into your pages, finding adventure, solace and breakfast menu. Under his stare, your shapes crisped into letters, your letters clumped into words, your words linked into stories. Your naughty wolves and pensive bears will accompany the boy, forever. But the boy, he's already gone.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes per batch
Servings: 10 pancakes
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder