Cotton Candy

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by cotton candy.

Maybe it was because it was such an rare treat. In the days of yore (read: the 1970s), cotton candy was reserved for the circus or the fair or some other infrequent-but-storied event.
I loved to stand next to the cotton candy booth and watch the proprietor swirl a thin, paper cone in a seemingly empty bin and emerge with a cumulonimbus cloud of gossamer pink, precariously balanced on a tiny point.

"Here you go, sweetie," he would say to the lucky buyer, who would carefully take hold of the beautiful concoction and delicately try to find a place to bite.

So it goes without saying that, when our church was looking for volunteers to work at various booths during the annual community picnic, I jumped at the chance to work in the cotton candy booth.

It was a gorgeous Sunday night in late August. The sun shone brightly; the light already held flecks of autumnal gold.

After the outdoor service, Corey and I gathered the kids and scooted through the dinner line (hot dogs, carrots, watermelon and chips) since I was first shift at the booth.

And that's how I found myself standing next to a machine that was spinning a cloud of pink sugar, clumsily wielding paper cones around the circle, passing off lopsided mounds of cotton candy to a throng of eager children.

The night was breezy, and I was near the edge of a picnic shelter. The wind caught errant wisps of candy and blew them into the crowd. Kids waiting in line opened their mouths to pluck a sparkling sample right out of the air. Delicate strands stuck to my arms, my face, my hair. (So intent and gleeful was I as Cotton Candy Maker Extraordinaire that I discovered this fact only when small children grinned my direction and shouted, "Mom, look at her hair!")

Halfway through my shift, I looked up and saw my daughter before me. Natalie was wearing plaid sherbet-colored shorts and a pink polo shirt. Her skin was tan, her hair pulled back in a pink headband. She looked utterly delighted.

“Why Natalie!” I exclaimed, as if she were my favorite customer, which, in fact, she was. “So happy to see you here tonight! Here you go!” And I handed her a cone heavy with sweetness.

“Thanks Mom,” she giggled, before turning to find Uncle Jon among the crowd.

Later, on the way home, when she was crashing like a little addict from an overdose of sugar, she sat in the back of the minivan and sobbed because the snow cone booth had run out of syrup before she'd gotten one. Suddenly, she sat up straight, found her composure and said, “Mom, do you know why I stood in your line to get cotton candy, besides the fact that yours was pink and that’s my favorite color?”

“No, Natalie," I answered, scanning her face in my rear view mirror. "Why?"

“Because you are my favorite person, Mom,” she said. "And I love you."


  1. Precious.... I miss my Natalie. I wish she were jumping on the plane with you! :) (As well as Corey and Connor...) But I am excited to see you and Teyla on Wednesday- even for just a few hours.. Love you!

  2. So sweet... your daughter AND the cotton candy.

  3. What a moment! Makes all the daily grind type of work totally worth it. And now I want cotton candy.

  4. I love this post! I wish you had a picture of yourself with cotton candy in your hair!
    In French, it's called "the beard of papa" which I always thought was the funniest name. Very picturesque, though.

  5. Aww! What a sweetie! I've never run a cotton candy machine, but I can imagine it's quite a sticky mess!

  6. I LOVED cotton candy as a child, too. (Not the store-bought kind in bags, mind you. It had to be fresh.)


  7. If you ever find yourself in Cody, WY, do go to the Rodeo. Best. Cotton. Candy. EVER. EVER. EVER!!

    Is it something with Natalies? Mine goes all goofy, and then gets super sweet on me. Love that girl.

  8. Sounds like a perfect Love Well day for a cotton-candy lovin' mama.

    What a sweetie.

  9. I love cotton candy sno cones, how about that! And especially Rita's cotton candy ice! Mmmm!

  10. So sweet. I could cry for you about how sweet that was.

  11. Those moments are the BEST!

    I think I must have ate too much cotton candy as a kid, because the mere thought of it makes my stomach turn ;)

  12. That is so sweet! Literally! I also found/find cotton candy to be fascinating, for all of the reasons you mentioned, plus the way it melts in your mouth...and I, too, would jump at the opportunity to run the cotton candy booth!
    As for your Natalie's melt-your-heart comment at the end, I can only hope that one day, MY Natalie will say something just as precious. What a great legacy! :-)

  13. You have made me so hungry for cotton candy....Sweet, Sweet post!

  14. I adore this post.

    This is my favorite part: watch the proprietor swirl a thin, paper cone in a seemingly empty bin and emerge with a cumulonimbus cloud of gossamer pink, precariously balanced on a tiny point.

    Oh to be able to write like that!

  15. How sweet! Totally worth all the sugar that you'll be finding in various crevices for days on end.

  16. Those are the moments you'll remember forever. So sweet!

  17. I'm sure your daughter's face and the sound of her voice will always be with you. Those are the tender moments that we treasure!