Bread, and vegetables.
These are the two "home" projects high on my priority list for the New Year:
Making homemade bread regularly, and planting a vegetable and herb garden.
I've already begun experimenting with bread recipes, from whole wheat flour to spelt flour, from popular current recipes to a multigrain recipe I picked up from an old (old) French cookbook.
It's an incredibly satisfying thing, to knead bread into the smooth, elastic dough that, set to rise near the lit fireplace, magically emerges into the bread that eventually I will slice and lift to my nose, to smell the grain and inhale the texture next to my skin.
But the garden? Growing my own vegetables and herbs?
Somehow it feels overwhelming.
Even though it isn't, exactly. That is, i've enlisted help -- my friend Jonathan, an experienced gardener who for decades made things grow in the forbidding environment of Vermont. And I've grown things before, to some degree of success -- a tomato-basil garden during graduate school, and herbs planted in boxes on our porch on Cape Ann.
Still the overwhelm -- or, more accurately, the anxiety -- chases me.
What to plant? How will it thrive when I travel so often? Where to plant? And how?
So I do what I always do when I have too many questions causing too much anxiety.
At the moment it is a book written by Alice Holden, a gardener in Wales. It is called Do/Grow: Start with 10 Simple Vegetables, and I picked it up a few weeks ago in a bookstore in Sydney. I didn't know that THIS was the book I was looking for, until I found it on the shelf and thought Well. Of course.
Even 10 simple vegetables feels like too much to me to start, and I pare down the list to what my family and I actually consume and want to consume more of.
Enough! For now, anyway. To start. Let me just start.
I would like to write about this garden, and this bread. I would like to sow the seeds, and test the recipes, and coax it all to nourish.
I would like to be patient with the process -- of growth, of taking root, of rising, of the timetable of nature.
I would like the process to teach me patience. And how to be where I am, on this piece of earth.