bread and home

It’s a rainy day. I’m drinking coffee and reading about yeast. I cannot tell you how many rainy days on the road I wished I had some shelter equipped with a coffee pot to while away the day in. Posdnous hangs luxuriously off the sides of my lap and I remember when I first brought him home, a kitten, and he sat upright in the palm of my hand. Yesterday I seasoned the cast iron skillet my grandmother gave me. It was beautiful, scoured free of rust, black, smooth and gleaming in its new coat of baked-in grease when I pulled it out to make my breakfast this morning. Eggs and fresh vegetables are the predominant occupants of my refrigerator, and it’s a real pleasure to have them ready at my beck and call.

Today, I will make bread for the first time. It’s an idea that occurred to me as I hiked around Acadia eating a loaf of bread I’d puchased from a good bakery in Bar Harbor. The bakery and its bread reminded me of Uprise here in Columbia and I realized what a comfort it is to find good bread. There might be a culture out there that doesn’t make some kind of bread, but it would be a wild and alien one to me. Then again, the weird little loafs uniformly stacked in the supermarket aisles seem a little otherworldly to me too. In any case, I realized just how central bread was to my humanity and felt a little less human for never having made any.

So, today I make bread, though really I started several days ago with a trip to the library. There I got a book called ‘bread’ with big print and even bigger pictures. I read the first few sections and compiled a list of ingredients and kitchen necessities. Two days ago, I rode out to Hyvee and picked out my ingredients. Yesterday, I sought out the kitchen implements I was lacking. Deliberation: it’s what I’m about. I haven’t dissolved the yeast in water yet, but I’ve probably spent eight to ten hours making this loaf of bread.

A couple of posts ago I contrasted my travel life with my home life and described the benefits of travel as “a narrowed playing field for the choices of the moment.” In this time I have before my school and job responsibilities begin, I am striving to create an expanded, but similarly narrowed playing field here in my new home. Instead of checking tasks from my ‘to do’ list, I am investing myself in the refinement of that list.

Laundry is a good example. I don’t have access to laundry machines in my new apartment, so instead of defaulting to a trip to mom’s or to the laundromat, I’ve decided to borrow my predominant travel method: I’m doing it in the kitchen sink. It’s a nice, big, duel basin, stainless steel sink, and I’ve installed heavy duty hooks near the ceiling in my east and west kitchen walls. Kneading and wringing the clothes (which can be therapeutic and a bit of a workout), I wash and rinse in the sinks, then hang them to dry on my camping line strung between the hooks. I direct my window fan onto the clothes to speed the drying process. Since only a finite number of items may be dried at a time, I do the laundry in small chunks every couple of days or so. Rather than it being a task I have to remember and work into my schedule, removed from the more organic home-based chores of cooking and cleaning, it becomes an integrated process. The clothes drip and I mop up the water, cleaning the kitchen floor in the process.

I may not have time for the level of deliberation that I’m exercising now once school starts but that’s okay. We’ll see what sticks and what compromises become necessary. The important thing is that I’m putting in the practice now, while I have the time to go as deeply into the details as I’m inclined to. It seems to me that even deliberation has a coarse of evolution to follow. As I write this on my iPhone, I am reminded that I’m looking forward to the delivery of my new laptop tomorrow. At the end of my last trip, when I found myself with ready access to a full size keyboard to write on again, I generally continued to shun it in favor of the iPhone I’d grown accustomed to. But all along the second half of this trip I found myself growing frustrated with the extreme deliberation enforced by the iPhone’s one-fingered tapping. It may be that I’ve finally put in enough time as a writer (and I’ve always been an extremely slow writer: taking at least an hour to compose a single double spaced page, on average) to feel constrained by this particular method.

But anyway, I’ve let this blog interrupt my reading on yeast and delay my bread making even further. Wikipedia tells me that yeasts dominate fungal diversity in the oceans. This interests the part of my imagination that wrote the ‘from the cliff I ate my burrito on’ poem ( and I’m glad to know it before I put my yeast to water. Lord only knows how many other related topics might catch my interest before I do so. Bread may not get made today afterall. That’s okay. I’ve got time. And it’s pretty pleasant sitting here near the open window in my little living room, drinking coffee, and pulling CDs from my collection that I haven’t heard since sometime before I went on the trip. I’m realizing that the acoustics in here are very good: the sounds are rich, full, and distinct, without the need for a lot of volume. The patter of the rain can still be made out in accompanyment. I guess the diagonal ceiling creates a sort of amphitheater sonic environment. I think I’m going to be pretty happy here.


2 Responses to “bread and home”

  1. been there Says:

    I like the new place.

  2. Kady Says:

    great article and lovely new pics, you room is fantastic! I uploaded some pics of our new living environment in the album Body Shots ( facebook) that is, but I still have a slight packrat mentality. However, Tony has carefully and sweetly guided me into understanding these are attachments of the ego.

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