It is the time you have wasted for your sourdough bread that makes your sourdough bread so important

Photo: Birgitta Eva Hollander

Photo: Birgitta Eva Hollander

I really like to bake bread. And then, a warm slice with loads of salty butter. The downside is that I can’t eat so much bread, but I’ve found my ways. In our cold room we have a big bag of organic, whole grain emmer, low on gluten and high on the good stuff. I recently got a sourdough starter, which makes the bread even more digestible (and delicious), and, most importantly, I let time do its thing.

During the darkest months of the year, we often turned off all the lights inside and gathered around the hearth. My mother called it twilighting, and we looked at the flames and the embers as the dark blue and purple light outside flowed in through our windows and slowly became one with soot and bodies and the glowing space between us. The room was full of dancing shadows. We didn’t have time. We were emerged in it.

Every weekday morning I get up early to make coffee and lunchboxes and breakfast and life. Every weekday morning I feel like I’m under pressure. Am I? Am I really under pressure? I try to get the boys out of bed early enough (and into bed early enough...) to have some time together before we rush out of the house. Break bread, laugh of our silly jokes, get some warm clothes on. And then, more warm clothes. Every weekday morning I try to remember who I am. Who am I? Am I really under pressure? There’s almost never enough time. Elia needs to be in school and we often believe the thought that it is important to be there when the bells ring. So we run. And my breath shortens. And they don’t finish their bread. And I yell at them for not getting their bloody shoes on. And we run. And I drive really fast. And I try to laugh it off. And we run. And we make it, two minutes after the bells ring. 

I just read about a shipping company that’s using traditional cargo ships to sail their loads around the world. In the garden, underneath the humble snow that came last night, are sunflower seeds and tiny onions, patiently waiting. The boys are in school. My mother, when I give her a call, often sits by the hearth, her feet stretched out towards it, almost like sunflowers and onion greens stretch towards the sky. And in my kitchen, I prepare the dough in the afternoon and leave it until the next morning. It takes almost 24 hours before we can eat our freshly baked bread. I wish it would take even longer. The dough, the fermentation, the melting butter. The boys. The fire. These are my teachers. It is time.


(Bread. Recipes bore me. Nevertheless, here’s an idea of a slow bread:

2/4 Emmer flour
1/4 Spelt flour
1/4 Buckwheat flour
A small cup of oats
Sesame seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Sea salt
A pinch of yeast
Sourdough deliciousness
Enough water (and then a little more)

Mix it and give it some love. Leave covered for the night. Give it some more love and distribute it in loaf pans greased with butter. Leave for another hour, then bake on 180C for about an hour. Take it out of the pans, dance for an hour. Add salty organic butter and love.)

(Have some cargo to ship? Check out Fairtransport.)

(Yes, the title is borrowed and remixed from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his Little Prince. Here's the original: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”)


To grain your own flour

We were gifted a grain mill last week, my in-laws brought it from Germany. Such a wonderful surprise, after we've spent weeks of cleaning and getting rid of much of the stuff our modern lives have accumulated. I’m only just realizing the difference between meaningless crap and a delightful materialism. I can grind my own flour! I can bake my own bread! All I really want, besides writing and performing my poetry, is life. You know? Life. Not the abstract, meaningless repetition we call society. Life. To use the body I’ve been given, to relearn curiosity from my children. To pick them berries and grow them potatoes. And grind my own flour! Revolution, of the slow and beautiful kind.

But here I am, in front of my computer. Elia, my oldest, has his second day at school today. Lean is in kindergarten. I’m grateful, so grateful, for the Steiner schools where we live, for the amazing teachers and their warm, warm hearts. We need them, and their hearts.

And yet, something in me growls and aches, something wants soil and trees and joy and roots, something wants hard, hard work, something wants the village and the fire and the sore back you only get from chopping wood. Something in me is tired of talk. And ready to ... walk. 

It’s almost like my intellect has come to an understanding with its own uselessness. Sure, it can be fun to be a really good thinker. But as a strategy for life? For a family? For society? Isn’t that what we’ve tried for the last millenia?

Life, not the abstract, meaningless repetition we call society. Life. With bodies and nature. Rhythmic movements. Blueberry fingers, fresh goat milk, the sound of a morning sun rising. Children laughing. 

I say yes to this and I say yes to that. Step by sweet, present step. Here we are, and a loaf of  bread with freshly ground buckwheat, emmer and spelt.

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