It’s cold outside. Really cold. The snow is falling, and it’s already thick on the ground. In the bakery, the oven is hot from yesterday’s fire. It’ll stay baking-hot through Monday when we’ll give it another shot of heat for the year’s final bake on Tuesday. The year’s final bake. That’s hard to say. Doesn’t fit well.
But it’s true. We’ll be baking for the open-house (Tuesday the 17th, 5:30-10:00), but we won’t firing the oven or bringing the loaves across town again until sometime in mid-January.
Most bakeries don’t do this. In fact, most bakeries make a good portion of their year’s money during these months of holidays. We get it, sure, and in fact, I face this break with a significant shiver of economic anxiety. But we also think differently about it. I doubt I need to explain it; it’s enough to say simply that we are very interested in building a more humane world, and we can start easy by asking ourselves what we actually value. I think David said it beautifully during one of our late-night strategy sessions: How do we know whether to take on a particular project? We just ask: “Does it help support our community, and does it contribute to human thriving?” Human thriving.
The break is a bittersweet thing. Baking is tiring work. The breads take time and preparation, and the oven needs our unstinting attention to be ready when we need it. There is flour to be scaled, accounts to tend to, dough to be mixed, apprentices to be trained, lots of everything to wash, and plenty of hand-work on the wooden tables. And that’s to say nothing of the baking itself. It’s long hours, and the haze of exhaustion settles in quickly and leaves reluctantly.
I hardly need tell you that the idea of some days rest, some hours with family unbroken by the demands of fire, and some longer dreaming sleeps all sounds good. Really good. But that’s not the whole story. The rhythm bread beats is compelling and enlivening, and I will miss it in the coming weeks, which, I know, I know, will pass by more quickly than I could possibly anticipate. And of course, I will miss you, miss seeing you and handing you that loaf. It will be a thrill to see you again!
Liz is outside with Reno, dragging snow off the driveway with an old tractor tire. She needs some help, and I’ve got to go.
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