Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Early New Year’s resolution

I know it’s a few weeks until 2010, but I’m getting a head start on my self-improvement campaign. As anyone who follows my ramblings knows (and there are a few regular readers), I tend to lean heavily on socially and politically charged commentary, even though I try to remain objective and to avoid personal character attacks – unlike many of my fellow bloggers. However, only so much can be said about the issues which pass for importance in our world today. I remain convinced that my word and actions have little or no effect on the world at large. All my fussing does is raise my already-borderline-high blood pressure, to my own detriment.

So enough! The broken political system, the grievous inequalities in economic resources, the narrow-mindedness of much of organized religion and of dogmatic persons of whatever stripe, the inane celebrity-obsession which passes for real news – all these will have to muddle on without my input. No more adding to the overwhelming negativity swirling in the ether. I’ve said all I care to on these matters…for now. We’ll see how long my resolution remains resolute.

I’ve been reading a number of other blogs recently, while on hiatus from my academic pursuits at Antioch McGregor (watch out, January…I’ll be back!), and I’ve noticed that it is possible to comment on less incendiary topics and still write with relevance. Life in my own backyard, with my family, friends and personal interests, offers a wealth of topics. So here goes –

After years of baking, I find I am still somewhat surprised when the odd assortment of ingredients I throw into my huge stainless steel mixing bowl – yeast, oil, honey, oats, flour and salt – result in an edible and delicious (I’ve been told) loaf of bread. It is rare when a kneading session doesn’t find me fretting over the temperature of the yeast when proofed, on the consistency of the dough, on the relative humidity of the kitchen where I store the bowl as the dough rises. And yet the outcome is almost uniformly good. I can’t remember the last time I ruined a batch (jinx!) and I’ve been baking at least two loaves every-other-week for over a year now, and much more than that sporadically for the past thirty years.

Many people don’t understand when I tell them I refuse to use a machine. I love the process of baking bread by hand, from scratch. I even love that astonishment when the perfectly baked loaf is turned out onto the cooling rack after another successful attempt. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that I can’t fully explain. Control, maybe? The sense that I really can do something right, critical outside opinions to the contrary? I don’t know.

But stop by some morning and we’ll discuss it over a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and a slice of freshly baked bread.

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