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Wintertime Blues

I’ve been feeling a little of the blues these past days. Maybe it’s the grey weather, the cold. We’ve nothing to compare with our eastern counterparts, who’ve had bitter cold and snow already. Still, it’s the relentless blah of winter onset that contributes to the winter blues.

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

— Shakespeare, “That Time of Year,” (Sonnet 73)

Also, as Shakespeare so memorably puts it, it’s the relentless march of time. It closes in on us, the colours fade, there is much to be done and not enough time to do it. Summer optimism and vigour are gently falling away. No longer when “time let me hail and climb, golden in the heydays of his eyes,” as Dylan Thomas added in his poem, “Fern Hill.”

Time to speak our truths

The items on a to-do list cover part of that anxiety. But life’s checklist also looms. Time to reflect on the meaning of it all, time to spend with loved ones and speak our truths, our love, reflect on our shared lives. I feel some things more inchoate, less defined, unknowable. They rankle. They are a source of anxiety without clear lines or shapes. They thump at the door, and I am afraid to answer.

The Salish Sea, practically at our doorstep, is choppy and white-capped. The wind howls in the eaves. Leaves scutter across the lawn and driveway. I struggle to get a flame in Mildrith’s hearth. The elements conspire against us, this time of year, threatening to snuff out our flimsy victories.

Gratitude and reflection

And yet, there is much to be grateful for. This is a year in which the Happy Monk Baking Company was launched and grew into a small, but viable enterprise on Pender Island. A community of bread lovers and those who’ve seized upon our commitment to organic, flavourful, hearth-made loaves.

We have thrilled to the authentic flavour of wheat and sourdough. We have experienced bread as it was meant to be: food that nourishes and makes connections around the family table. Bread that eschews the scourges of “Wheat Belly” and gluten intolerance and high glycemic indices.

We introduced 28 different Baker’s Choice loaves this past year, added to our stalwart loaves week-to-week, the Salish Sourdough, and the Seed Feast. We’ve had Rye in many forms from orange-hinted to seeded and spiced. We’ve trotted out breads made with ancient grains, including Einkorn and Spelt. Many of our loaves used Red Fife wheat, a variety that Canada’s reputation as the “breadbasket of the world” was built upon.

A cob oven risen from Pender earth

It has been a year of making new friends. It has been a year of learning. It has been a year of doing something real for the first time in my life. Building a cob oven out of Pender earth and stone and wood, baking over a thousand loaves of bread, feeding and nourishing a Happy Monk community.

I used to take acupuncture treatments from a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She would smile when I told her I was feeling the blues at this time of year. She’d say winter is a time to slow down, reflect on your health, replenish energy, conserve strength. “All your energy is just momentum, and it’s slowing down now.”

Youthful energy

Poor old Eddie Cochran, who despaired, in his song, that there was no cure for the “Summertime Blues.” He’s roiled with youthful energy, parents and bosses are stopping him at every turn from having fun. He considers taking his problem to the United Nations, then …

Well, I called my congressman and he said, quote:
I’d like to help you, son, but you’re too young to vote!

What’s a young man to do? Eddie Cochran left behind a significant body of great songs before he died in a car accident at age 21. His energy lives on to this day in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This, too, shall pass …

But it’s winter, now, and we’re talking about the Wintertime Blues. Better to live in harmony with the season. The dark evenings and mornings of this time of year urge warmth and the indoors. The sound of a fire crackling in the woodstove is nourishing. I crave slow-cooked soups and stews. Sweaters and a blanket and a cocoon of warmth.

The birds will sing in their choirs again. The sap will rise in the trees, the plants will push out of the earth. Life will renew itself. And so will this Happy Monk, after a few warm winter sleeps!


Happy Monk Tidings - May 18, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Olive Bread; UPDATE: Canal Bridge project postponed; Assume normal delivery schedule; BLOG: The Breadman's Quest for the Stanley Cup - [See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - May 11, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rye-Spelt Sourdough; Blog: Road/Bridge Closure: Be Here Now - [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - May 11, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rye-Spelt Sourdough; Blog: Road/Bridge Closure: Be Here Now - [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - May 4, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Polenta and Rosemary Bread ☀︎ Blog: An Artisan Bread Manifesto ☀︎ [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 27, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt Honey Sourdough; Blog: A Podcast for Pender Island [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 27, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt Honey Sourdough; Blog: A Podcast for Pender Island [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 20, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye ; Blog: Walking with My Father [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 20, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye ; Blog: Walking with My Father [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 13, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Hot Cross Buns; Blog: Who's to Blame for the Hot Cross Buns Song? [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 6, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Whole-Wheat Flax Bread; Blog: The Baker's Arms [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 30, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Oat Porridge Bread; Blog: Thanne Longen Folk ...; We're Donating to Ukraine! [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 30, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Oat Porridge Bread; Blog: Thanne Longen Folk ...; We're Donating to Ukraine! [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 16, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Sourdough; Blog: Wheat Connections to Ukraine [ See LinkTree in Bio ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 16, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Sourdough; Blog: Wheat Connections to Ukraine [ See LinkTree in Bio ] ...

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These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries

These corn kernels are headed to the mill to make cornmeal for Anadama Bread this week. It’s a bread with origins on the east coast, but that shouldn’t stop us west coasters from enjoying it, too, godanadamit! This is organic field corn from @fieldstoneorganics of Armstrong, B.C. … and the hard red whole wheat from Metchosin, B.C. make this Happy Monk take on Anadama a bona fide west coast phenomenon! Just sayin’!
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#anadama #anadamabread #cornmeal #cornmealbread #metchosinbc #armstrongbc #stoneground #stonegroundflour #stonemilled #stonemilledflour #stonemilledbread #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries
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Happy Monk Tidings - March 9, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Anadama Bread; Blog: Salvador Dali and the Art of Bread - [ See LinkTree in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 9, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Anadama Bread; Blog: Salvador Dali and the Art of Bread - [ See LinkTree in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - March 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Have Your Been Shriven? [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - March 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Have Your Been Shriven? [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Morning Breadsong (volume up!) A pile of Salish Sourdoughs just out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven. 
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#breadsinging #breadsong #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland

Morning Breadsong (volume up!) A pile of Salish Sourdoughs just out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven.
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#breadsinging #breadsong #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bakerslife #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #breadmaking #breadmaking🍞 #sourdough #sourdoughbread #coboven #earthoven #earthenoven #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland
...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 23, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); Blog: The Burned Loaf: And Offering and a Blessing - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 23, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); Blog: The Burned Loaf: And Offering and a Blessing - [ See link in profile ] ...

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It just needed a few more minutes. That was three hours ago. Saved my best for last!  #showusyourfuckedloaves

It just needed a few more minutes. That was three hours ago. Saved my best for last! #showusyourfuckedloaves ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 16, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Sourdough Sandwich Loaf; Blog: Festival of Fornacalia - All hail, Fornax! Goddess of the Ovens! [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - February 16, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Sourdough Sandwich Loaf; Blog: Festival of Fornacalia - All hail, Fornax! Goddess of the Ovens! [ See link in Profile ] ...

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John-boy’s got his arms loaded with a bunch of Happy Monk bread, one of his favourite states of being. He’s generous to a fault, though, and spread the loaves around his close circle of friends. That’s m’boy!

John-boy’s got his arms loaded with a bunch of Happy Monk bread, one of his favourite states of being. He’s generous to a fault, though, and spread the loaves around his close circle of friends. That’s m’boy! ...

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The 2kg Desem miche is out of focus, in the back ‘cause it would have drowned out the little 1kg Durum Sesame loaf in front. The miche is a monster but every bit as delish as the Durum loaf! The Desem’s coming soon! Won’t be a miche, though!

The 2kg Desem miche is out of focus, in the back ‘cause it would have drowned out the little 1kg Durum Sesame loaf in front. The miche is a monster but every bit as delish as the Durum loaf! The Desem’s coming soon! Won’t be a miche, though! ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - February 9, 2022 🍞 - It's great to be back! Baker's Choice: Durum-Sesame Sourdough; Blog: To Sleep or Not to Sleep [ See link in profile ]

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1 thought on “Wintertime Blues

  1. Eddie left us an all-too-short legacy, but that line has stuck with me through my powerless teens and I can hear it now. Now, when representative democracy is under attack everywhere and the masses are rising to challenge nefarious powers behind snarling dictator-wanna-bes. Winter is a time to rally our forces for the next phase. Your baking will help sustain us in 2020, come what may.

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