Flour. Salt. Yeast. Water.
I found myself pulling out the big stoneware bowl today. Measuring, stirring, watching as all of it blends into crumbs and then into something more cohesive. Turning the dough onto the counter, sprinkling it with dusting more of flour, starting to work it, pressing my fingers deep into the sticky lump.
Knead. Fold. Turn. Repeat.
It’s a sort of miracle how the dough stretches and becomes elastic, fragrant with the yeast and the rosemary I added for flavor. Kneading is a soothing rhythm, something I’ve done since childhood when I first learned the secrets of baking.
I suspect there’s a reason so many cultural and religious traditions center around food.
My father-in-law called yesterday to let us know that Arthur’s grandmother passed away. We saw her at the beginning of October. Even at 101, she was steady, sharp, and engaged. It was a gorgeous day, we all went for a walk around the swan pond, she gave the kids ice cream, candy, and cookies, and we had a lovely visit. The day before, I’d had my start-cycle appointment. The day was bright with literal sunshine and a lot of hope.
One of the things I’ve grown to detest about the early stages of grief is the howling numbness, the void where something once belonged. The holes, as it gets further away, don’t disappear, but there’s something around them, substance that grows into something steadier.
I can’t do anything particularly practical other than basic adulting right now, because it’s not mine to do, it’s already done, I’m physically exhausted, or I just don’t want to today. We wait for word on the funeral arrangements. I think about the pile of baby stuff in the basement.
So, I’m baking bread. Because it’s what I can do.
I anoint the dough with oil. Throw it back in the bowl, cover it, put it in a warm spot.