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Pender Island Through a Baker’s Eyes

The Happy Monk Baking Company has been in full throttle for a month, now. Our orders grow each week, the praise continues to come in. It has been a month of hard, happy work, and a month of discovery!

Here’s one thing: when the bread is out of the oven, there’s still half a day’s work ahead: packaging and delivering. At this point, I’m bleary-eyed from being up since earliest morning stoking Mildrith’s fire, baking and trying to stay ahead of the chaos in the kitchen. But the promise of these last few steps is enough to keep me inspired.

Packaging and delivering the bread is the final act of presentation. It’s the moment when I hand it over to a customer, packaged in a crisp brown bag, stamped with the Happy Monk logo. It’s a completion and a moment of truth. A fulfillment of the customer’s expectation. The anticipation of breaking into a fresh loaf of bread. A little salivation (and perhaps a little salvation). A happy customer retreating to the kitchen. And the Happy Monk, driving off to the next destination.

Aha! So You’re the Baker!

Many customers are old friends; some, I’ve never met. Others are people I might have chatted with, but long forgotten their names. And as I approach the front door, we both might experience moment of recognition: “Aha! So you’re the baker!” … “Oh, yes, you’re the actor I saw in that play a few months back!”

Delivering bread has led me along Pender Island roads I’ve never been on. It has taken me into driveways I would never have noticed, driving by. I’d never been more than a hundred yards along Hooson Road, but I now know its open farm lands and forested roads. One meandering driveway led me down to the waterfront and a house with one of the most exquisite views of Saturna Island and the Salish Sea.

Another time, I had some trouble finding a customer on Pirates Road. I stopped to ask a pedestrian where the address was.

“Oh, that’s down the road, where the rich people live!”

I found it, eventually, another meandering gravel driveway through the woods to a smallish house looking out onto Bedwell Harbour. Well, my conception of Bedwell is from the heights of Mount Norman, or looking north from Poet’s Cove, or south from Medicine Beach. It was a surprise to find myself looking east across the harbour to another forested landscape. My view of a familiar Pender spot, turned upside down.

We are all rich, when you think about it. This island gives us natural splendour, a place to discover who we really are … to ourselves, to others. Some of us find something we love, and some of us at least have a good chance at finding it, if we really look. The baker’s life has brought me closer to Pender Island. What a surprise, what a discovery, what a blessing!

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