Baking a simple loaf of bread reminds me of what’s essential.
Flour, water, salt, yeast. Your hands. A song, maybe. Some fire and a way to get that bread out of the fire. It cools and you break it, and the smell…
My uncle just bought a Ferrari. I’ve never been in one, but it’d be fun to take a ride round the block.
We live in a time of peace, prosperity and excess. I travel along roads every day where people live behind twenty-foot hedges and have full-time staff who cook and clean and garden for them. I share a world, and a world view, with those who want more. I pretend I don’t, that I don’t want more, but sometimes I really do.
But then there’s the fig tree. And the figs that we pick day after day. The clafouti made by my husband. A glass of white wine in his hand. The music on. The slowness of his movements because he loves the figs, and he loves the Italian baking dish, and he especially loves us.
There are the pomegranates, too. Trees on my parent’s new property that haven’t been properly tended in years. The fruit dangling so high. Me, reaching, reaching to tug down the fruit–my mom holding my belt loop so I don’t slip into the ravine and break a leg. Twelve pomegranates, thirteen scratches–and us so proud.
And then the bread. Just one loaf, maybe two. Hours of watching and waiting, for what? For a little food?
The act of making, of creating, even just a little food, has become sacred to me. It has become prayer. The sheer doing of it. Even reluctantly, even in a bad mood, or distracted by that disease of wanting more.
Like a flower, first blooming in spring, like a smile, from someone you don’t know, just because. Like an unexpected view that’s filled with light and green and glory. Gratitude comes to mind. And so I seek to see the very essence of one simple loaf of bread, made by you, made by me,
and maybe another one to give away.
Two loaves of Struan were cooling on the rack and dinnertime was nearing. It had been a busy day and I was feeling the draw to settle into the evening with my family.
I quickly ran through the list of the new babies in my life and realized that all of them, except one whom I’d already visited, lived clear across town. I really didn’t want to drive. Not then, not during the Christmas rush.
So, I didn’t.
Instead, I toted the hot loaf two minutes away, and dropped it at the home of Mrs. H, where my older son had been hanging out that afternoon.
I felt kinda bad that I’d decided to stay close to home and offer the bread to someone who didn’t have any babies to tend, nourish, or feed. I even thought about not blogging about it…
I got this email the following day.
Oh, Jane, I worked until almost 9 O’clock last night and have to be to work by 8:30 this morning. I can’t begin to express what a delight it was to wake up to your delicious fresh bread this morning. Thank you so much, it was such a kind thing for you to send it. May you be richly blessed for your thoughtfulness.
Giving. Sharing. Just a small something for someone. Let’s keep trying, you and me, and not always be too distracted by whatever our methodical plans are. Sometimes doing what’s practical, even doing what’s simpler, is better in the end.
But it’s not The End, folks.
More giving (and lots more giving to babies) to come!