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Cooking is important in our family.

Years ago my sister gave us our first Penzeys herbs and spices. What a treat to have unique, fresh and carefully managed herbs and spices. Sometimes we give them as Christmas gifts to our family, not as a jar of this or that, but in wide variety thoughtfully organized. I spend days sorting and marking little plastic bags with information about the herbs and spices. It is a ritual for people to pull out bag after bag after bag with eagerness to discover what each contains. Chilies and peppers from Mexico, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan; cinnamon from Ceylon and from Vietnam; Greek oregano, Mexican oregano; zatar from the Middle East; basil from California; tarragon from France. Those bags of herbs and spices contain the world.

I had so many herbs and spices we actually had three plastic storage containers under the guest room bed. We always laughed when I said, “Honey, can you get some chilies from under the bed?”

Right after the fire my sister placed a Penzeys order. I usually buy in bulk but this time needed jars. I got confused about the size of the jars. When they arrived, the jars were very small. I stood, staring for a long time wondering if my life had become very small since my home was gone. With a shudder of resolve and relief, I called Penzeys. They were wonderful. Not only did they replace the small jars with larger ones, they gave me a discount. Several days ago I got my new order. Today I got an email wishing me well. I am touched that someone so far away cared about my family and my fire.

I certainly don’t have the same large collection of herbs and spices I did before the fire—nor a bed to put them under for that matter—but some of our old friends are back with us. I like to think that those under the bed rose fragrant like a prayer on the winds of the fire.