Toiling American settlers who returned home during the winter traditionally were able to turn backsides to the ever-present fire, and--if they had thoughtful spouses--would have the luxury of heated bricks or stones to which the could press their stockinged feet. During the harshest winters, when firewood was not always in abundance and fires were allowed to burn lower at the evenings wore on, parents were able to enjoy a few more minutes of warmth by the embers. After tucking the children under mountains of down-filled comforters, they propped their feet up on foot stoves that held pans of hot coals salvaged from dying fires. Those made of pierced brass were luxury models; most were wooden framed lined with perforated tin sheets that allowed the heat to escape, resulting in toasty tootsies (which almost always guaranteed the arrival of a new member to the family in the fall).

Another way of coping (at least psychologically) with winter’s mean ways was to be presented a trayful of crumbly butter cookies that bore spring’s eternal promise--flowers. Along with the Germanic tastes in floral motifs for Christmas decorations and ornaments, baked goods during the white despair of winter always tasted better with exotic flora impressed into the sweet, rich and much-coveted treat.

Using her springerle rolling pin, Mutter promised--and, by gosh, delivered--barefoot weather in April.