Needing

Her grandmother used to knead by hand
On a floured surface
Removing treasured wedding bands
In exchange for dough-covered fingers
She can remember Grandmother’s punching
and shifting
and pushing
and turning
Filling the dough with joys
or
frustrations
Whatever were the feelings of the moment, the day, the week, the month

Now years later
with no floured surface
She carefully measures her wheat, honey, water,
Yeast, oil, gluten into her bowl
Breadhook attached, machine plugged, timer set,
the mixer does all of Grandmother’s work
to the tune of ten minutes.
The timer sounds, the kneading is done —or is it?

She longs to touch the dough
like clay in the artist’s hands
Bringing life into element through the hand-builder.
Pulling out the flour, she dusts her counter and hands
Ooooooo—wow. How could she know it would feel so fresh in her hands? She turns in her sorrow for the fussing she did to John who wouldn’t put on his shoes and head to kindergarten class in time for the bell and pats in her smile she shared with the baby this morning. She infuses the bread with her spirit
as she feels
Grandmother near.

The futility is passed. She embraces the past, and

Making bread is now a joy.

-Karin Salisbury


photo credit

A Gift…Refused

As I listened to a rebroadcast of this talk on Monday morning, I found myself in a bread-baking mood. I mixed together the easiest, yummiest, moistest (is that a word?…I’m really tired this morning) bread, which makes three loaves.  As they came out of the oven, the glorious smell of deliciousness filled my home like the warm feeling of a hearth on a winter’s day.

I allowed them to cool, shared one with my family as an after-school snack, and wrapped the other two to take to neighbors.  We delivered one that evening.

The next day, I still had one large loaf of beautiful, golden, crispy-on-the-outside, moist-and-delicious-on-the-inside, homemade bread to share.  I sent one of my kiddos to another neighbor who doesn’t speak much English.

My little one came back with loaf in hand.  “She didn’t want it.  She said, ‘I have bread.'”

I felt a little deflated.  In all my years of baking and delivering goodies to friends, family, and neighbors, never have I been refused.  Now, I am not angry or upset; I realize we come from different cultures and generations, which gives me a little bit of peace with the hurt.

Another moment of peace came this morning, after a long night with a sick child.  I walked into a dark, 4 a.m. kitchen to get medicine for one of my little people and noticed the loaf of bread, still carefully wrapped to preserve moisture, sitting on the counter just on the outside of the beam of light over the oven.  The thought that came in that moment was that I made that bread for me.  🙂

I couldn’t have done it today for myself, but the act of service that I did in the spirit of sharing with others came back to me.  I felt a moment of sadness that I took my neighbor’s refusal of the gift personally, while, moments later, I felt the relief of bringing a gift to myself and my family on a really hard day.

And I was grateful.

🙂

And, in case you are interested in making bread, here is my *favorite* bread recipe, delivered once to me on another hard day out of the blue by my friend, Kim.

Kim’s Yummy Bread Recipe

8-9 cups all-purpose (or bread) flour
1/4 cup oil or shortening
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons instant yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
3 cups warm water

Mix and knead (about 5 minutes). Let rise one hour. Shape into 3 loaves (I like to roll them under a bit, like French bread), and place in greased loaf pans. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake @ 400 degrees for about 24 minutes.


photo credit