elemental

I’m sitting outside at the picnic table at the edge of the backyard meadow, facing the bright full sun, wearing my serious polar fleece jacket that has the nylon layer inside because the wind, even if not as shockingly strong as it was yesterday, is still moving air and grass and trees and sounds swiftly in this cool morning. It feels so elemental, so basic and rich and deeply satisfying, and I find myself reflecting on how this character of elemental has flowed through the past twenty-four hours…

Up before first light this morning, sitting with the first cup of hot coffee in front of the fire, lights and sewing machine on and illuminating the work I am anxious to get back to, I realize I am craving bread. I typically don’t keep it in the house unless fresh from a bakery or my oven. The craving is big enough to get me out of my comfortable rocking chair to look for a basic biscuit recipe, find one immediately in one of the many Moosewood cookbooks on the kitchen shelf, grab the bag of fresh whole wheat pastry flour just purchased, mentally substitute the recipe’s call for buttermilk with the heavy cream in the fridge, and turn on the oven to 450. Halving the recipe, it doesn’t take but a minute to whisk together 1-1/8 cups flour with 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, & 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add 1/6 cup olive oil and 3/8 cup cream. Stir with a fork until just mixed, turn dough onto a floured board, gently knead 5 or 6 times, roll to 1/2″ thickness, cut out rounds. Re-roll the leftover to get a couple more, seven biscuits total. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown.

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It’s not even six o’clock in the morning and I’m eating delicious hot biscuits with butter and a smear of my favorite Chevretine goat milk feta cheese. Smile. It occurs to me this craving is no coincidence. I had fallen asleep re- reading the process for making Levain starter in one of my favorite bread baking books called ‘Bread Alone’ by Daniel Leader. It’s been years since I’ve made this bread, but I’ve just purchased a half share from a local group called Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains CSA and have begun imagining all the fresh flour I will be able to make. Something about being able to make bread from flour so close to the source is inspiring and exciting.

As is the time spent in the immersion of making of a new quilt. In my new studio space I am surrounded by baskets and cupboards full of the fabric collected for decades, now all at my fingertips and easily accessed for use. Thrilling! After a full day working the design yesterday, I knew I would want to get up and sew it all together as soon as I could. Tummy now full of warmth and satisfaction, I do just that. And it’s always a good sign when the ease of construction matches the ease and balance I feel in the presence of a finished composition.  I began this piece on the wall of my previous home, now transformed on the wall of my new home…

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Then the sun comes up and it’s a breathtakingly beautiful morning. Nora and I get out for the first foray into the woods, never too soon to get out again even after numerous visits there yesterday in the bright sun and whipping cool wind.  As usual, we spend a lot of time at the water’s edge…

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Each trip into the woods now is with a bag to fill with dried branch wood that is on the ground. Now I am collecting wood!  Another satisfying activity that has purpose and meaning. I literally can’t start a fire without this kindling kind of wood. Like the elemental flour for making bread, like the basic stock of fabric and thread stored and ready for use, these beautiful branches, now dry and ready to be of service, snap into lengths that I can fit into a bag to carry back up to the house. Three bags full already, I imagine filling a room with what can be collected before the snow flies.

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It is time to leave the sun and wind as the morning begins to move in other ways now, with work calls and laundry and more unpacking to do. But having already danced with flour and fabric and wood in the sacred place of my desire makes it easy to integrate these other necessary activities into the rich web of the day…

8 thoughts on “elemental

  1. Stunning! And, happy to have your biscuit recipe. I’m determined to learn. I too have so enjoyed — no, relished, the gathering of wood. Peace. Beautiful writing. Thank you!

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