Home cooked food & agenda-less days.
My place of refuge, for many years, was snuggled up on my grandparent’s high backed two seater sofa between nanny and either the dog, Tiny (who wasn’t that tiny) or my granddad Joe (when he was home from sea).
The sofa would be pulled in front of the glowing fire on these occasions. We would be waiting for bread dough to do it’s magic. It’s receptacle, the wide mouthed red clay earthenware pot, would be sat on the hearth. The inner yellow glaze hidden by a damp white tea towel. I still have that vintage pot and I have made bread with it many times.
Nanny always gently patted the yeasty white mound, as if that sealed a secret agreement to rise, just before covering it in the towel. The memory is extremely clear in my mind, as are her gnarled hands which she believed resulted from stretching material over wings of planes during the first world war.
The sour yeast smell pervaded the room as we sat there, mesmerised by the kaleidoscope-like flames. Our eyes would soften and the soporific effect of the warmth could gently work its magic on us, and of course, the dough.
Whilst in communion with the primitive fire we were invariably munching on my nanny’s amazing, melt in your mouth, apple pie. She had been “in service” and her job as pastry chef meant that her pastry was a party in the mouth kind of amazing. I have never had as good a pie since.
Yeast, warmth, comfort food, crackling fire, safe in my loved up haven doing nothing much.
In these Covid times, some of us (non key workers) have had the joy of doing nothing much. Perhaps exploring baking and other foodie related activities. The fact that I have been challenged to buy yeast and flour is a good sign there’s been a resurrection of these crafts. Either way, my wish is that they stay firmly on people’s agenda when we return to a semblance of life as we knew it. Home cooked, good quality food is essential.
I also know that many people are missing their relatives and friends. Ironically, life was so full for many pre-covid, that time with them was probably rationed. I have definitely been guilty of that. So, I also wish that people remember that a simpler life can be joyful. The pleasures of smelling bread rising, apple pie baking, sitting with loved ones, going for a gentle stroll, agenda-less, pressure free days, is what makes life precious. Let us not forget. Aim to have more times to sit in peaceful silence, easy unhurried conversations, more simple everyday activities with those we love.
The Alexander Technique is a fabulous tool to use to savour these “present moments.” It can bring “doing nothing much” into such sweet clarity and richness. If you would like to know more, get in touch! Online lessons available.
Jane Clappison, Alexander technique teacher