Getting By

As H.M. prepares to leave (for 2-3 months), I prepare to be alone in this space of ours. He will be back home in Israel, visiting with family, friends, and hoping for some respite from his blues here.* I hope for the same as I stay here.
I have been spending time in the kitchen. Baking bread, enjoying the meditation of kneading by hand. Using the last of the fresh cherries for a cinnamon-cherry tart, loving the dark stains left on my fingers.
Taking a break from the once-meditative-but-now-grueling baby blanket, I cabled up a sleeve for my new computer. It felt so good to work in thick yarn and marvel at the speed. Next up, some swatching for what I hope to be a new line of items for my etsy shop (what's that? I have an etsy shop? Why, yes, I do. I'd almost forgotten!) and for our second storie} indie market this year. (The announcement of our vendor list will be here tomorrow. It's pretty awesome.)

Today, with the sun and blue skies poking through the white fluffy clouds, I wonder if I will find my enthusiasm again. It's been missing lately. My head has been with me in the kitchen pitting cherries, and with my fingers as I knit, but my heart has been distant. A little hesitant.
Perhaps this is just the emotional equivalent of the calm before the storm. My emotions are still and quiet, knowing that soon there will be a fury of sadness when H.M. leaves.
Today, though, has promise, beginning with fresh bread, toasted with jam, and a cup of tea.

*I should mention that most of what he will be doing back in Israel is work-related, and that he's not going on a 2-3 month vacation without me. I need to keep reminding myself of this.


Anonymous said...

Dearest K,



Bread and, perhaps, opposable thumbs.

Actually, bread, opposable thumbs, and Bach.

Or really, bread, opposable thumbs, Bach, and I used to think running across a grassy meadow for no reason except to feel the grass around your ankles, and the wind on your face, but that latter, so I learned recently, does not actually differentiate us from those beings without bread and opposable thumbs and Bach. I used to think surely, only people were silly enough to run when thy didn't have to, and then I realized a kind of double opposite. H. and B. also run to feel the grass around their ankles. And we also run because we have to, and so also bake bread because we have to, and so also Bach.

My father baked bread in the basement. At some point it came as a revelation to me that not every house had an extra kitchen in the basement. Later I couldn't understand why we did.

e. baked bread at 2am with a red bandanna barely restraining her thick gypsy hair. Adroitly mixing and kneading not by hand, she wielded the mighty Hobart, and me, stumbling in around 1:30, eyes bloodshot with the important events in the life of JS Bach, sat on a stainless steel table spooning directly from a quart of smuggled maple yogurt, quietly watching, just as (or so I imagine) I sat on a low bench watching my father, the two of us breathing the life of newborn yeast. Tonight will be challah, she whispers.

But did you know the opossum has not one, but TWO opposable digits on its hands? Imagine the opossibilities. Although, it probably wouldn't make Bach any easier. At the keyboard, each of us is plagued enough by one thumb at the end of our four fingers. We spend our lives trying to make the strike of the thumb indistinguishable from the strike of the second finger, or, in e.'s case, the "First Finger."

At 20, I discovered the need to bake bread. 20 years of spectating, I had never made my own loaf. And suddenly, I made more than I could eat. I made more than two of us could eat. Thick, dense, amateur, unrisen, malformed, burnt, undercooked loaves; 1/4 chunks of only-worthy-for-soup leftovers cluttered our 8-ft. table. My bread-baking father had built us an 8-foot table and put it in a trailer with the only piano I have ever owned and drove it 305 miles so that I could clutter it with stale bits of uneaten bread that I kneaded (machine-free) with my own opposable thumbs.

Now bread has become a thing of falls and winters, a thing of farmers markets and apples, a thing of leaves. Which is to say that in the Pacific Southwest, bread was impossible. A breadless famine, compensated for in running for no reason. But this winter, following a ludicrous traverse between harsh urban winters, I arrived in the home of an ardent bread baker. We shared secrets - I taught how not to knead, I learned how to baguette.

But even that 6-month era has passed and tonight, a still sultry night, I join my own dear H. (who, of course, is not my own at all) on the couch, and he peeks out of the corner of his eye at me, pretending not to dose, pretending to still be hungry. Now fully asleep, having passed through the early sleep-twitching. B. thinks there might still be another run across a meadow left in us tonight. But in fact there is only Bach, and soon sleep, and in another month, the bread will return, as reliably as the Candian geese, or, in the Pacific Southwest, the Swallows. And in the morning, more Bach, played badly with my oppositional thumbs, and then we will all run, for no reason but to feel the grass around our ankles, and that will be the favorite time for me and for H. and for B.

Know that you are not alone.


karen said...

This was wonderful to wake up with. Thanks, dear friend.