15 February, 2013

There Will Be Bread

Two weeks ago, I baked bread. I didn't make what you see in this image, but certainly I did bake bread.

"Big deal," you say. Well, it is.

In the decade of the 70s, I was really into bread making - in a big way. Hand-crafted from scratch. There was something very fundamental about it. The chemistry. The connection with earth and with fire. The artistry. The continuation of something almost primal. I think what I valued most was the use of my hands to knead the dough. It was at once meditative and restorative, but that kneading is why I hadn't made any bread in a long time - until two years ago when I made about ten loaves over a week or so.

As some of my readers know, I no longer have use of my left arm and hand, and unfortunately I let fall fallow certain aspects of my life as those activities became increasingly difficult. That wasn't necessary, however, for everything that I gave up. In retrospect, it's clear that I gave up too much. My life has been very full though, and with much to compete for my energies, it was easy to stop anything that required extra effort.

That was a mistake, and I've learned that I gave up on some things that worked well to ground me, things that were important in their simplicity. Without dwelling on it, I regret this, but with the encouragement of others, I am reclaiming some of those elemental occupations.

So I baked bread, again. I didn't use my daughter's bread making machine even though it works really well, and I don't have the kitchen skills of my wife who is an excellent and versatile chef. It wasn't easy, and there were frustrations. Nevertheless, because I baked that bread, again, I am today a better person.