Boulanger

I quietly escape into our bathroom for a spontaneous Sunday morning bath.  There are few moments to be alone, without a sweet babe wrapped fiercely around my leg.  There are few moments to read, let alone in peace.  Seizing an opportunity, or maybe creating one, I sneak away while a little lady and her daddy occupy themselves with giggles and books and before either one notice I am gone.  I acknowledge the gift of water, and time (alone.)  Before motherhood I was unaware that together the two become a luxury.  I open my book and with each page emotions stir, adrenaline grows, and purpose fills my bones, like water fills the tub.  I only read a book of bread but the art, history, and worldview of a Boulanger, (French word for bread maker, which I cannot stop repeating under my breath), keeps me engaged like a good dance class or a book of Chinese medicine.  Like cupping and acupuncture, improvisation and poetry, I am fully engaged, inspired and alive.  “Boulanger,” I periodically set my book aside, to say it again and again.  With each repetition the name begins to suit me.  With humble confidence and amateur ambition, I investigate from my boots to my brains, forgetting not one single cell in between.  I marvel at the mystery of transformation, remembering that just years ago my hands had not touched ground grains made new into dough.  My heart was not patient, and my mind not big enough to fit my wanderlust inside, what seemed to be, nothing more than a confining domestic vocation.

I relax deeper into the water and give myself permission to reflect some more.  It seems the domestic, mundane, everyday happenings have filled me with more meaning than my monumental story of a 34-hour train ride from Oslo to Budapest.  A domestic life filled with flour and time has produced as much pleasure as authentic Italian Cuisine and late night Vespa rides in Naples.  With pruned toes I sigh at my sweet memories, remembering that I once thrived off of an evanescent life, seeking adventure, with eyes gazed far and wide.  But today I crave a simple, local life with roots running deep and family drawing near.  I become more aware that both adventure, and a strong sense of place are not mutually exclusive, and although may seem worlds apart, are in fact one in the same.

I rest easy in the water because this monumental book and bath have given me permission to courageously claim a new name. I sigh softly and methodically because I understand what I have become.  What was once a name attributed to being the creator of warm goodness straight out of the oven has surprisingly proven to be a way of life.  A baker is not a baker simply because of what they bake.  A baker is a baker because the meditative, life giving act not only transforms once useless ingredients into a sustaining life force, but because they themselves are transformed in this process.  While I measure and weigh, following recipe instructions with care, it ultimately comes back to a feeling, and at my core, I am a feeler.

Days later I attempt my first Sourdough Rye with traditional natural yeast boasting one hundred and thirty years of life.  I am baking with a starter that has enough history to taste its stories, and enough life to sustain generations.  Flour, salt, water and yeast; individually they may be insignificant, but together they are wholesome and worthy.  With little space and adequate time these ingredients age and evolve, getting better with time.  I hope the same could be said of me one day.

On a Sunday in May, I declare myself a bread baker.  On the Tuesday following I still dwell in my recent discovery.  I daydream of the possibilities that find a home in such a name, and then I bask in its novelty.  It is my visceral pursuit, my domestic adventure.  I bake because I must. I am a baker.