It’s the end of the year. A brief pause to look back, then to cast my our eyes forward to the coming year.
And what arises immediately is gratitude for what I have and hold in front of me. The Happy Monk Baking Company has occupied much of my time and attention. It has been a big blessing. It has been a time of learning and finding confidence in a new profession. It is a business, yes, but it has also been a path to new friendships, profound conversations, community and celebration.
The joy of work!
It has been hard work, hoisting tubs of dough and hewing loads of wood for the fire. Rising in the darkest hours of night. But if not for that I might have missed the unexpected joys in the first birdsong, the beauty of the night sky or the cheery hum of a brightly lit cruise ship sailing past the front of our property at 3 a.m. The smell of fresh bread gusting out of Mildrith. The never-ending miracle of seeing beautifully puffed chestnut coloured loaves when I open the oven doors.
The business challenges, the website management, the accounting, logistics of delivering the bread. There have been headaches, victories and flops, “bread fails”. And there will be more.
But gratitude above all!
Jennifer and I are in good health. Our lives on Pender Island are blessings! Daily swims in the frigid ocean, a hot tub to warm up in, healthy meals in the evening and love in the dark nights and early mornings. Friends and neighbours all around us, and the bounty of nature in all its splendour!
There is a backdrop of “news” that casts a pall over the times. Climate change, tribal politics, consumerism. We are one step removed from much of it, here on our Island, “far from the madding crowd,” as it were. We do not intend to close our eyes to them, but step in where we feel our actions can make a difference. And live our lives in ways that may bring balance and positivity into the world. Love, in other words.
And so to the coming year!
We will close down operations after this week for a few weeks’ reflection and rejuvenation. We’ll use it well, this one-month hiatus. Seeing what comes forward about the things that have worked and not worked. To make a few modest changes, such as new products, new schedules, new locations.
It’s ironic that the past few weeks have been the busiest we’ve ever been, with bread orders hitting new highs. The work load has followed with new levels of busy-ness. I’ve had trouble seeing straight some days. I’ve looked at the back yard, the property and found things that I’ve turned a blind eye to, and I look forward to looking after some things close to home. Jennifer and I need to get away, maybe a road trip is in order.
We’ll be back in a month, rested, stronger, with new ideas and outlooks. I look forward to the quiet interlude, but also to the return to Happy Monk. To the baking, to the friends.
Thanks be to…
Thanks are owed at this time to many people. To the builders of Mildrith, Jacques Marmen, Tracy Calvert, Ryan Fogarty and Peter Hughes of Oceanside Masonry. Not to mention Bryce Ehrecke of Cré Natural Building and all the folks at Pender Island Home Hardware. To the bakers and suppliers at Nootka Rose Milling, Caitlin, Cyal, Jock and Erika. To Byron Fry of Fry’s Bakery for his passion, guidance and advice. To Pender’s Greenangels Choppers and Al Wilmott of Winter Creek Farm. Ron Henshaw for the delicious Pender Island clay. And Lester Quitzau and Mae Moore for the bountiful bucketfuls of horse poop to make plaster for Mildrith! My great neighbours, who’ve made generous donations of firewood, advice and encouragement.
All of you are in my warmest thoughts at this dark winter season, for your kindness, enthusiasm and support.
And to all the customers, who’ve welcomed the Happy Monk into their lives and who’ve warmed my life. You are deep in our debt.
And lastly, to my darling Jennifer, who has been my muse so often in our time together and who continues to inspire and encourage me on this road of life!
See you all soon!