The bakery was in Toronto. And the little girl is my grandmother. They moved to Los Angeles on January 1, 1901 when she was 11.
One of the reasons I love Lammas is that it’s a baking holiday like Yule and it makes me feel connected to the long line of bakers I descend from. It makes me wonder how far back does the baking go? Is it like one of those ever reflecting mirrors where you see the same image repeated into seeming infinity?
Because my background is fairly homogenous almost a 100% Scottish and Swedish with one of the clans emigrating with William the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066, I can imagine a long line of people who baked loafs for Loafmas and earlier for Lughnassad. It makes me feel as if I have a strong foundation to stand on.
What was it like to bake bread in a brick or clay oven? I’ve baked bread in a dutch oven in a campfire? Did they? How did they learn how to regulate the temperature? What did they do if the yeast died? For yeast is a living being and can die. Did they grind their own wheat or oats or rye to make their bread or did they pay the miller in town? Did they grow their own? Did they let their neighbors use their ovens when they were done to cook their meals? Did they share what they had with people who did not have enough? I was raised to bake for others and share and I can’t imagine that is a new thing? Food should be shared like love.
And knowing that many of the male bakers were Master Masons, did they use magic in the baking like I do? Baking is a lot like alchemy. It’s alchemy of food. Taking diverse ingredients like wheat and milk and lard or other shortening and adding minerals like spirits of ammonia (the precursor to baking powder) and calcium carbonate and the living yeast, how did they learn to combine them to make something wholesome to eat?
Who was the first to smell the magical smell of baking bread? Who decided fresh churned butter and preserved fruits would taste so good together?
Who offered their first loaves to the Lady after the wheat harvest? Did they wonder about the future? Did they keep their recipes secret or did they share them if asked? Did they wonder who would bake after them?
Last night I baked my loaf. My first in years as I tasted it after it cooled I wondered about those other bakers.
This is Lammas or Loafmas or Lughnassad. The feast of the first harvest but what if you are feeling like you have nothing to harvest?
I can tell you right now you do. If you are above ground and haven’t been buried or cremated you have something to be thankful for.
I haven’t had a permanent job for over 4 ½ years but I have a good temp job at the moment. I’m grateful.
I have some physical issues but if I feel pain at least I know I’m alive. Might not have felt that way for about a minute last week after that fall when I had an introduction to the earth but I am grateful to be able feel.
Because you see, except for my sister, there is nothing left of the nuclear family I was born into. They aren’t here to celebrate breathing the air or seeing the ocean. I am. You have to be grateful to live. We have so much our ancestors did not and yet we whine.
Having spent many summers without indoor plumbing, I’m grateful I can have a toilet that flushes. Many places on the planet don’t even have running water let alone sanitation.
I’m grateful to sleep indoors because I could quite easily be homeless. We’ve come very close at times.
I’m grateful to have clothes to wear. They may not always fit or be high fashion because I’ve lost weight but they cover me and I’m grateful.
I’m grateful my eyes see and my ears hear because someday they may not do either. But I’ll learn to deal with it as it comes.
I’ve come close to dying a few times. I’m very grateful I did not.
I’m grateful for the library when I can’t afford to buy books or music.
I’m grateful for the food we have now because sometimes it’s been food from the dollar store or go without.
I’m grateful for electricity and all its many uses like being able to assemble the electrons and protons to type this.
I’m grateful to my ancestors. I wouldn’t be here without them even with a genetically challenged gene pool.
I’m grateful for the love of my friends and friendship.
I’m grateful for creativity and that I can think and dream in so many ways. And that I can enjoy what others think and dream.
I’m grateful no one sane is really thinking about burning people who have different belief systems in this country or because they love the “wrong” person.
I’m grateful I have my car at the moment and the bus when I do not and I’m grateful that even if I have to use a cane I can walk to places.
I’m able to breathe. I’m grateful.
I have a lot to be grateful for. These are my first fruits. What are yours?