Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apricots! or perhaps I should say I see glimmers of hope!

A couple of days ago Judy and I went out to survey the latest work on the garden.  We were delighted to see a few blossoms on the apricot tree.

Last year we delighted in the blossoms, but delighted even more in the fruit the tree bore last summer.  We made tarts and jam and I felt pleased since I had wished for an apricot tree for years.

So, the apricot tree is about to be in full bloom.  The algerita bush in the side yard is covered in tiny yellow flowers that will eventually make berries.  The oak tree is blooming with little catkins.  The fig trees are covered in teeny tiny baby figs.

A couple of weeks ago I was miserable, cold and feeling hopeless.  An acquaintance asked if I still felt enthusiastic about my bread baking.  I laughed a bit bitterly, saying that Pollyanna enthusiasm wasn't exactly the way I would describe my livelihood.  I do feel deep gratitude for my customers, and am 100% convinced that being able to transform wholesome, freshly milled grains into delicious breads and cookies is a great vocation and job.  I LOVE my job.  But it is hard, my ingredients are quite difficult to source, they are getting more and more expensive, and occasionally I wonder if it will be possible to continue to offer my products if I can no longer afford their ingredients.  The hours are long, the piles of dishes are gigantuan, and enthusiastic isn't really the way I would describe how I feel about my work.

But the gratitude sinks down into my bones, and while I am not exactly bubbling over with effervescent enthusiasm, I am thankful for this bakery, and the mill, and the smells of yeast and honey and the feel of bouncy dough being worked by my hands, the warmth of the blast of steam from my oven, toasting my face, the smile on a child's face as she pops a warm, nutritious cookie into her mouth.  The gratitude of a customer who discovers my bread doesn't make him sick.  I am thankful to be able to fill up my children and their friends with granola and dozens of cookies and lots of homemade pizza and cinnamon toast.

But wait a minute, I think I got off track!  So, feeling cold and miserable and hopeless, I told Raymond that I was going to give up on gardening.  It was too much, the soil was too rocky, I didn't have the time, energy or optimism to figure out how to garden in southwest Texas.  R. hasn't gardened much.  That siad,  I think he must love me an awful lot.  Because he brought a load of boards and stakes and wheelbarrow and shovels and got to work on the garden beds even though I protested halfheartedly.  He and Maggie and Patrick set about repurposing boards from a broken down picnic table into several raised beds.  The kids dug up beautiful soil from a year's worth of sheet composting for the lasagna garden that never quite happened last year, except for those volunteer pumpkins.  They found dirt that was chocolatey brown, and while not exactly teeming with worms, it did have a few!  Which is pretty amazing.  All of a sudden, I felt hope begin to show some teeny signs of growth in my heart.  Like the little bitty figs.

Seeing Raymond and the kids work on a project that was primarily for me, since I am the one who loves to garden, made me feel deeply loved.  Can you believe that they fixed up a screen to sort out the rocks from the dirt and then hauled of a couple of truckloads worth of rocks, to make room for soil we grew last year?  It is not a gigantic garden space.  Compared to the farm in Virginia, it is tiny.  Sufficiently big enough to grow quite a bit of food for this little spot.  Who knows if anything we plant will grow and survive and produce.  But I feel much more optimistic about gardening today than I did a couple of weeks ago.

I am hoping that the springtime, rebirthing optimism, will pour over into my bakery business, growing like yeast in a nice, warm bowl full of grain and milk and honey, giving me some new energy and creativity.  Perhaps some hope and optimism will enable me to be able to see new solutions to challenging situations.  Perhaps rote work will be transformed into enthusiastic vocation.  Or something like that.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I have friends in Texas that have lovely gardens so I know it can be done..... Good luck!