On one of our recent trips to the library, we picked up a beautiful storybook called Blue Bowl Down. It was an illustrated lullaby all about an Appalachian family making bread.
We read it the first time on a very blah day. The kind where I couldn’t get anything done, and the kind where I had very little oomph. But we read the story, and it enchanted me, so I pulled down my red and white checkered Better Homes cookbook just to see if a bread recipe looked doable.
We set to work–Little Miss as excited as I was. We dumped the flour and warmed the water… Stirred in the yeast.
And then we kneaded the dough. And at that moment I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to buy bread–or even a bread machine. There is something so therapeutic… and earthy…. Something that feels like hearkening back to your origins to fold and push and fold and push. It makes me all day-dreamy, standing there, kneading the dough. I think of the scores and scores of women in every conceivable culture who have done this task to sustain their families. I think of all of the lovely Biblical metaphors that come to mind. Even better–for a few brief moments–I don’t think. I just work the dough until I feel it relaxing into the right consistency.
Then, of course, we let it rise. When our bread is rising, I peek on it constantly like a little kid awaiting Christmas. Every time I walk through the kitchen (and I make many excuses to do so), I have to see what the dough looks like. The first time I was delighted to see that it really did rise. Then I had a ball punching it down, patting it out, and forming it into loaves.
Soon enough the bread was in the oven and that…. smell–you know the one I mean–had filled the house. Warm, and fresh, and nourishing all on it’s own.
Since then I’ve decided to make it a habit. We’ve baked bread three weeks in a row now, including today. I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy baking bread because it was such a long process, but it turns out, it is the process that thrills me. Getting my fingers in the dough, feeling the joy of creating something so sustaining. It’s life-giving. It’s warm and comforting. It’s grounding.
It’s a little thing, but it’s something that makes me breathe with a little less labor. It makes me feel at home in my own skin. It appeals to each of my senses in equally wonderful ways.
It’s a little piece of joy right now. And I love that.