Grains were milled. Floors were swept. Recipes taken from brain and put onto computer. Dough was started and sage was picked.
Our last bread baking class on the farm happened today. There were nine or ten of us around the table, stirring, watching gluten develop, kneading and forming loaves. "No, not that way, this way, gently."
I could barely get started, I got so emotional. Thankfully, working dough is a good rote exercise for me, and somehow I got kicked into teaching mode.
Yesterday the girls picked lovely flowers, Queen Anne's Lace, wild sweet pea, Blackeyed Susans. They decorated the kitchen window and made me feel at rest.
We discussed the benefits of freshly milled grains. Talked about spelt. The difference between tender breads made with milk, fat and eggs compared to chewy loaves made with yeast, wheat and water.
We probably added a little more chocolate than the recipe called for to the chocolate brioche, just because. We ate the bread in hunks right as it came out of the oven, even though you really ought to let it sit for a half hour to finish cooking. We laughed and hugged and shared stories, and then sat out on the deck in the late afternoon and ate way more bread than necesssary with a little glass of wine.
Someone said that as we broke open a loaf of hot bread and passed around bites it was a bit like taking communion in church.
I think that the essence that is shared by these folks who come out for cooking classes is indeed very much like that most deeply spiritual of rituals, communion. Is it any wonder that Christ chose bread and wine to represent himself and help us to remember?
As I contemplate all these folks, such dear ones to me, some friends from church, some friends from market, some previously strangers to me, but drawn in by love of food, all of it is so sweet to me. Some people talk about how they try to keep their faith separate and private, but to me, it is all so intertwined, I can't even begin to figure out how I could do that.
Breaking bread with those folks, Christians, non-christians, farmers, non farmers, mothers, dads, single folks, kids, sharing our lives together along with our stories gives me great joy and makes me thank God for the gift of food and the ability to create wonderful things.
I hate writing all this down, because I think it must sound kind of silly. Oh well. I guess if you hadn't figured out what a sentimental silly I am by now, you haven't been reading this blog for very long.
It is hard to believe that this chapter of our lives is drawing to an end so quickly. It hurts to think that after pouring out so much of ourselves into this farm and valley, and having so much of the valley poured into us, that we will move. Thankfully past experiences have proven to me that bonds forged over a hot stove last long term, and somehow manage to stretch over many states, right Holly? Or Lee? Remember all those early days of learning to bake freshly milled grains together back in Ft Worth?
So in a few days we will load up the bakery and other less important belongings and head to Texas where hopefully there will be other sweet folks who will share in the communion of our bread around the table. And I guess that opening ourselves up to love opens us up to pain of separation.
I feel so lucky that we have been blessed with such dear relationships. And I have been blessed with a livelihood that gives me such satisfaction. I love my job.
PS We are still in the middle of a nice cool spell. Heavy clouds hang overhead and at 8pm it is still bright outside. I am on the deck. Chicago is blaring inside and the evening birds are singing along. Crickets, too. Peepers, not so much. I just saw a goldfinch fly from the cherry tree to the willow. Coco, Mary and Ribeye are grazing up by the road. The sheep must be behind the barn. The air is still, not a breeze. I could almost use a sweater. Now I see two goldfinches, diving and swooping, playing in the branches of the tart cherry tree.
PPS Even in the middle of all my sentimentality, I sure do miss you, Mom and Daddy. I would be very homesick if I didn't know I was going to see you in a week. And that makes ALL of it worth the while.