This morning the sky was gray and dark as we made our way to the schools by bicycle. I was full of coffee and warm from milling and mixing and kneading dough, but by the time we were halfway down the street by the golf course my hands were shivering and my cheeks were numb.
Tuesdays are a light baking day and perhaps a bit more pleasant than Fridays, giving me room for some experimentation. I have been making delicious grownup crackers ever since the organic Kamut came in. The big kids were pretty impressed, but Nora was not. So today as I milled I was thinking about Nora. Nora has a bit of a sweet tooth.
What to bake? I decided that Kamut graham crackers and Kamut peanut butter cookies were in order. After getting the regular goods well on their way, milk and honey bread, spelt milk and honey bread, the pizza crusts, the granola, the italian peasant bread and the spelt almond raisin rye, I got to work on the treats.
Kids get home a bit before 4. Customers come shortly after. It is fun setting out little bits of this and that for the kids to enjoy as an afterschool snack and for the customers to enjoy as samples. One of my new friends and customers took a bite of the graham crackers. Her review was the best compliment! She told me that after tasting the freshly milled Kamut version, the store bought variety were just plain boring!
It is a joy having customers come by the bakery in our home. People slow down, catch up a little, eat a slice of homemade pizza or a bite of spelt brownies and kiss babies and share stories. I have learned so much about our area already by conversations had in the bakery while wrapping up someone's bread. Local economy is spell-binding, on many levels. What a grateful heart I have for all those customers. I thank God for them.
After the bakery closed, Rose and I hopped on our bikes and rode over to the middle school for a Community Garden open house. Rose is in 6th grade and one of her elective classes is Environmental Science. She has an amazing, young, energetic and forward thinking teacher who apparently has a rather amazing support network. He and several volunteers from the community have started an organic garden outside the school. They are using recycled materials to build up the area.
Of course you can imagine it did my soul good to see that lovely garden. Rose tells me that they are outside working on it most every day.
What delighted me even more was seeing the paper-crete project. The school is collecting all recyclable paper, the children shred it by hand, add water to make it into pulp, then fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/5 full, mix in one coffee can mortar, three coffee cans water, stir thoroughly, then pour into forms to make blocks which they will use to build a tool shed for their garden.
Ten years ago or so, it was legal to cross the border in Big Bend National Park and we would often go across the Rio Grande with the kids on our camping trips to eat tacos in a little village. There we would see folks making adobe bricks for their building projects. I loved the organic ingenuity. Using material at hand, dirt, manure, straw, water from the river, they came up with building material that would last for many many years. No Lowes withing driving distance, and even if there were, no one would have the money anyway.
Well, there is no Lowe's in our town, but there is a lumberyard. The school teachers could probably go and buy some cinderblocks. But can you imagine the lessons the kids are learning as they gather up the teachers' waste paper and turn it into real, solid, long lasting blocks that will build a structure? They are using their hands and hoes and a donated wheelbarrow and wooden forms built by the highschool industrial arts kids.
I guess it doesn't take much to delight me. Simple pleasures and all that.
I was impressed. So happy to see that our school here in Alpine is willing to educate our children on many levels. Happy to see volunteers working with my daughter, people from our town who don't even have children in the school, working together because they know they are being a part of making our world a better place. One tomato plant and one paper-crete block at a time.
Somehow I think the lesson here is way deeper than I can even begin to cover tonight, but I am tired and hope to put my head down on my pillow in a few minutes.
As Rose and I rode our bikes back home, the temperature dipped even lower and we felt like we could smell the Arctic Ocean. The sun fell and we were shivering by the time we reached our warm house. The roast and the stir-fried green beans tasted like a feast. Everyone ate more bread and cookies. We finished A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle last night and haven't started a new read aloud book yet. Everyone retired with their books or Ipods or phones and we are all enjoying blankets. I think that the temperature is supposed to drop down to the 30's tonight. Can you believe it?