Monday, January 9, 2017

To the season bread #phenology

The Christmas tree is down. Dropped needles have been vacuumed up. The base of a replacement brush pile is in place behind the house. Snow showers are falling. Pure Winter is finally here.

snow showers
snow showers
Photo by J. Harrington

Meteorological Winter begins December 1. Astrological Winter on December 21. Each of those is encumbered by the "Holiday Season." Now that we are beyond New Years and the Epiphany, real Winter can be experienced without distractions.

Last night I fed the sourdough starter, but I neglected to first remove a cup or so of the saved starter. Overnight, the newly fed starter grew faster and bigger than anything I've experienced before. This morning, once I'd cleaned up the mess of exploded sourdough starter droppings that were all over the counter, I made a fresh batch of bread dough and baked two loaves of sourdough bread. The house smells wonderful.

home made sourdough bread
home made sourdough bread
Photo by J. Harrington

Tonight we'll have beef stew. Tomorrow, split pea soup. Each thanks to the Better Half. My contribution is the bread that goes well with either. Soups and stews are hearty Winter comfort foods, best accompanied by homemade bread. The combination gives me a sense, however misguided, that in one small part of today's world, some things are as they should be, especially with a couple of dogs sleeping on the couch. I fear that will be a challenge to hang on to for the next four years or so and wish us all the serenity to accept things we cannot change and, to paraphrase another part of that prayer, the courage to change things we cannot accept. Meryl Streep set an example for us last night on things we should not accept but must make them as they should be in the larger world.

Bread


By Richard Levine


Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.

There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping

each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.

Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.


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