It’s Not About the Words…

Two loaves–one strictly sourdough, the other a loaf of sour made with Telegraph brown ale

Mixed: 9:30 pm

Molded: 3 pm next day

Baked: 5: 30 pm

Gave to folks who used to be next-door neighbors but who moved down the block

Last weekend when so many women filled my home for our baking extravaganza, one friend asked, “So, what do you say, exactly, when you give the loaf of bread away?” I wasn’t sure what she was getting at by the question; it caught me off guard. “I say…” I told her, ‘I baked an extra loaf of bread today and want you to have it.” She looked at me for a moment. I could imagine she was thinking, and that’s it?

Her question made me question myself. Should I be saying more? But as we chatted on for another few minutes, my original reasons for starting this experiment flooded back to me. I explained that it’s the act of giving that to me is so important in what I’m trying to do–not my words. That I’m not trying to make this bread giving into more than it is. I don’t attach a note that explains about the blog; I don’t recite a Bible verse about feeding the poor; I don’t really want to say much at all. I just want to do–to give.

Since so much of my world is made up of words, this act of doing–of giving without an attached explanation or agenda–is important to me. I want the bread to carry its own quiet message. I want people to simply receive the bread as a very small token of love–or of food–or of neighborly niceness. Whatever meaning happens to come across to them.

It was late yesterday when I walked out the front door with the hot loaf of sourdough. Really late. 7 pm–past most dinner times. I didn’t have a destination for the bread, and it was cold. So I wrapped my favorite green scarf around my neck, put on my boots and coat and headed into the dark.

First I made my way, click-clacking in my boots, toward State Street. Ever since Christmas Eve when the Thomas kids showed up on our doorstep with the most delicious plate of shortbread, I’ve been wanting to bring them bread, but when I saw the house lit, and the dining table fit with laptops and not dinner plates, I decided I was too late there.

A car door slammed around the corner. I thought perhaps I could intercept someone in the street and offer them the loaf, so I backpeddled, turning the corner, looking through the dark to see what I could see. The street was quiet. Whoever it was had already found refuge inside.

So I walked toward the mountains, peeking in at the windows of my neighbors, some I still haven’t met after ten years of being here, praying for an idea. As I rounded another corner I thought of our prior next-door neighbors, who had moved about a year ago. They remodeled the tiniest little house that has a big window which faces the street. Though they’re rarely home, you can usually see their cat sitting at floor level, right in the middle of that window, watching the world go by. The lights were on. My hands were cold.

Christine answered.

“Christine, I haven’t seen you in so long!'” I said, smiling. “I was baking today and made an extra loaf of bread. I’m sure you’ve eaten–it’s so late, but I thought I’d bring it by anyway and maybe you can make French toast or something in the morning.” I handed her the bag.

“This is so perfect!” she gushed. “I’m making soup, and Scott’s working late and we will absolutely enjoy this! Thank you.”

I click-clacked home and was glad I found someone who hadn’t yet eaten. I was glad to see Christine again.

And that was it. No story, no speech, no flier about the blog. Just a very small token of love to an old acquaintance. I feel that that’s enough. That she’ll discover whatever message is meant to be there.

Meanwhile, I’ve got another batch of bread to mix. Love to you all! (…and those aren’t just words :))

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8 thoughts on “It’s Not About the Words…

  1. Hi Jane-

    Came to your blog through a “Home Bread Baking Google Alert.”

    It is wonderful, and echos much of my feelings about the rewards of bread baking. Carol (spouse) and I are presently building a website and hope to have it up within a few weeks.

    We will surely want to link to your blog from a section on news about bread baking.

    I’ll make sure to send you a link when EasyBreadBaking.com goes live.

    Best to you,

    Harry

    • Harry–can’t wait to see your blog. Yes, send along a link when your blog is up and running. Though I have baking in my blood, I’m still very much an amateur and can use all the help and ideas out there…. Blessings…

    • Kim–I am all too full of words sometimes! Especially when it comes to my poor children… who have to endure my blabber. This baking and giving is a needed lesson for those of us who tend toward lecture mode.
      Thanks for your sweet comment!

  2. Can you imagine living in a different town, an impoverished place, someplace different than Santa Barbara proper and giving away a loaf of bread? I’m sure you would see a lot of people scarfing it down right there in front of you. It might almost be easier to give in that situation. So what’s Jane Meyer doing giving bread away on State Street or close by? That’s what is intriguing to me. It’s just good to give for givings sake.

    • Erin, if I could choose any place to go right now and bake it would be Haiti. I’d love to bake a ginormous loaf of bread for every single Haitian trying to survive that place.

      Pray for them with me, will you? That’s an even more powerful form of giving than mixing up a loaf of bread…

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