Giving and Gratitude

People can tell you all sorts of things about living, about what to read, or say, or do… But being the one who actually does the doing, that’s why this experiment in giving has been a profitable one for both me and my family.

Not profits–as in money. No, there’s very little financial gain in giving away bread, but I believe our souls have benefited from the stretching out of our hands and hearts. And it’s not just our hearts that are being changed.

Often, not always, not even half of the time, but often enough to notice, I will bring bread to someone and they will immediately want to give me something in return.

  • When I took a loaf of bread to a new neighbor, little Owen’s mommy, she wouldn’t let me leave until she had loaded me down with peppers and parsley and lettuce from her garden.
  • And the time John Ronan chose to give pumpkin bread to our neighbors, Mia and Noe, and we returned home with two fresh eggs.
  • Nataliya, who still needs so much as she recovers from her awful illness, but she wouldn’t let us out of her home empty handed…
  • And then there’s little Ben. Every time I try to offer him something, he wants to split it in sixes or sevens and take it home to his family.


And just last week, when John Ronan was touring the neighborhood giving away Valentines, we received a return visit from Dolores, a neighbor who loves to garden. She surprised my son with a beautiful bird book, hoping to inspire him to study all those birds that make their way into our backyards.

All these movements of sharing, of giving, of love, must help to hold up the universe and keep the sun shining. These small acts of kindness, and even prayer, mean more than we imagine. That’s what I believe.

So her bird book sparked an afternoon outing. Well, it really was midday, and we decided to take our schooling on the road. We headed to Douglas Family Preserve to birdwatch, and we weren’t disappointed.

Gratitude. Thankful for the gift. Thankful for the Giver. One little book spurred all this?

Lovely, what a little giving can do…



half recipe, French bread, two boules

Mixed 1:15pm

Molded 3pm

Baked 4pm

Gave to Grandpa Dunn

I was on the phone with my friend, Joanne, the other day after I’d just been pulled away from a writing project. I moaned a bit, saying how much I’d like some time to just work! With the few moments I have each day to write, I can’t even imagine the luxury of having eight straight hours to type away, unhindered by requests for building marble tracks and yet another cup of milk…

She reminded me that some days she’d like to be home baking bread and going to the beach.

Thank you, Joanne, for that reminder! I deserve a sock in the nose.

Today’s boule is a loaf of gratitude, and a reminder to myself that I am where I should be, doing what’s set before me… even if I don’t always like it. But I do like it–that’s the rub. I love it.

Grandpa Dunn lost his house in last November’s Tea Fire here in Santa Barbara. And… he was a radio man during the Second World War for the navy. Though I’ve never met him, (his granddaughter lives across the street and is a very favorite neighbor) I’ve heard the stories of how he built his own adobe home in the hills, and that he’s rebuilding that house, even now, at over 90 years old. It’s Veteran’s Day, and the loaf is being driven up to the hills as I type. I hope he enjoys a taste of my gratitude for his service.

Yes, gratitude. I’m reaching into the air, grabbing that gratitude back and saying thanks right now, on this Veteran’s Day 2009, to all those who have fought for peace, and reminding myself to be thankful for the countless little things–like building marble tracks, and baking bread, and going to the beach, and pouring out cups of milk, and tending my pomegranates. I love my pomegranates…

jane kisses pomegranate

…And if I were at work all day I wouldn’t have near as much time to make pomegranate syrup, and pomegranate jelly, and eat pomegranate seeds straight from the skin.

Those are just a few things on my list: What are you thankful for?