by Martha Topol, 04/23/2020, Traverse City, MI
Here’s what I don’t understand. What’s up with the bread making thing? Why has that become the new fad? No flour in the stores! No yeast! Empty shelves and for what? I mean what happened to that whole “gluten is bad” for you message? Have we glibly tossed aside our efforts at gut health for that primal pleasure of a slice of bread and butter? Is that what this virus has done to us? Or is it, gosh, I’m walking 10 miles a day, I’m gonna eat this bread! Or maybe it’s, I have so much time on my hands I can wait for that finicky yeast to do its thing-that is if I could just figure out how to achieve that perfect temperature of warm but not too warm. I tell you; I have better things to do with my time. Like staring into space. Or watching old Friends reruns. Or, wait, I get it. It’s that productivity thing. If I pound on this smushy mush long enough it’ll meld together into the perfect elasticity and won’t that be satisfying. And, once it comes out of the oven, in a rounded mound of golden delight, I can bask in its aromatic perfection as drool pools on my mouth’s edge. Yes, food glorious food. And I made it all by myself, me, the quarantine queen. Oh, the joy of self- isolation! But really, when I think about it, maybe what I’m learning about myself is I’m not a hands-on kind of gal. Sure, I tried bread baking back in the day but did I like it? No. Did I see a need for it? Definitely not. I mean currently I have five loaves of half eaten bread in my freezer, expertly created by one of our amazing local bakers, why compete with that? And gardening, that other heightened topic, my eyes roll into the back of my brain every time it comes up (sorry friends). My closet, my kitchen drawers? They too constitute an area of hands-on productivity I just can’t stomach. Sure, I feel bad about all of this at times but if there’s anything to gain from these weeks of home living is the (re)discovery of what does bring joy and the chance to embrace it with judge-free abandon. Sure, we all feel horrible about the state of the world right now, the fear, the disfunction, the uncertainty, the lack of control, but if we’re needing something positive to embrace, then by all means, bake your bread, dig in your garden and for those with kids at home, give them an extra hug or two. As for me, I’ll light a fire, settle in with a good book and please, pass the chocolate chip cookies.