By Spencer Light | The Broadside (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s funny how the simplest of beginnings — a small deed, some kind words, or even a genuine smile — can form a relationship with the potential to blossom into another part of daily life. In my case, all it took was finding the right chemistry. I also needed to build a safe environment in which our relationship could flourish, and my efforts grew into a process of weighing, feeding, forgetting, and recovering. This cycle began warming me up to what lay ahead, along with a taste of how rewarding parenting could be.
Now, I’ve always been an anxious person, and I vividly remember the first time I took my baby to school. I looked around the brightly lit room at the activity of everybody else’s children, doubts and questions immediately filling my head. Was he being fed properly? Have I kept him at a comfortable temperature? This process was a practice in patience, and without being able to strike up a conversation with my newborn, I had to trust the only way he could let me know if everything was going right: how tall he would grow overnight, how he smelled before mealtimes, and most importantly, how he tasted in baked goods after spending 30-50 minutes in a 460 degree oven.
I may have forgotten to mention that this whole “relationship” began in BAK 240 with a few grams of flour and a splash of water, and that I named the resulting sourdough starter Seinfeld because of an inside joke our class had. The sentiment remained, however, and though I certainly don’t expect to be having real children any time soon (although a dog is not out of the question) this whole process marked the first time I was directly in charge of something’s life. I found that as the only one with the ability to keep Seinfeld healthy each day, one question surfaced: how do I balance the needs, no matter how primitive, of this gassy mass of wild yeast with my home environment and work schedule? I had to learn that there is a world of people out there — and a whole classroom full of them even closer — who are all asking these same questions and struggling with these same things.
I think that throughout this project in Artisan Breads, I’ve had a few moments where I can sit back and think about where I am in life. The best of these are always when a gorgeous loaf comes out of the oven. I’ve made plenty of mistakes getting to this point in my understanding of the bread making process, but I’ve been through even more confusing and difficult times getting to this stage of my life. I struggled in high school. I found it hard to connect with my parents for most of my childhood. But this moment, holding what I had previously believed to be a simple loaf of bread in my hands, helped me realize that my past isn’t something that should make me feel down. There was world of successes, big and small, that made me who I am today. No one is ever done growing, just like a good sourdough starter, and while I was standing in class, enjoying that deeply flavorful bread with a deep brown crust, I just had to smile. What a tasty child. ■