As I write this, it is a sunny spring day, blustery and chilly. In normal times such weather would carry the promise of warmer weather and gentler days. Today, the wind seems bitter, harsh.
I’ve been reading the remarkable new novel by Hilary Mantel, The Mirror and the Light, the last in her trilogy on the English politician, Thomas Cromwell. (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are the predecessors). Passage after passage of breath-taking prose, but I have to put it down every few minutes. The news of the day distracts me. The Mirror is a work of stunning beauty, but in light of the Coronavirus, is it made less relevant?
The headlines bray
The headlines bray, news anchors frown over stories about the plummeting economy. They talk of social distancing, the prospect of hospitals being overwhelmed, massive unemployment.
I’m not an anxious person, for the most part, but I’ve recently succumbed to moments of fear about the impending “end of days.” How will the world ever be ordinary again?
The world isn’t ending, of course, it’s just a little more uncertain and insecure. I am grateful to have good health, a lovely partner, and to be thriving here on Pender Island.
And I’m grateful to all who have bought bread from the Happy Monk Baking and for the community it has inspired.
The boundary stone
There is learning and wisdom to be found in great books if we can relax into them. I can’t recommend highly enough The Mirror and the Light, with its reflections on the plague and politics and autocratic leaders. These subjects may seem too close to home. Still, when elevated to high art by Hilary Mantel’s skillful prose and insight, it can offer helpful perspectives on our own times.
Last week, a customer mentioned he had recently visited the town of Eyam, Darbyshire. On the outskirts of the village, there is a boulder that marks the boundary between Eyam and neighbouring Stoney Middleton, known as the “boundary stone.”
During an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1665, the people of Eyam quarantined themselves to prevent the spread of the plague. Villagers of Stoney Middleton would leave food and medicine for Eyam residents at the boundary stone, who paid for these offerings by leaving money in six holes drilled into the top of the stone.
An early example of “social distancing”
By the end of the outbreak, more than a quarter of the village’s population of almost 1,000 were dead. But the plague had been contained. The self-quarantine measure was an early example of “social distancing.”
The neighbour who told me the story, a retired professor of history, had visited the stone. At the time, it seemed to him a quaint example of how people survived a plague hundreds of years ago. He had no idea how relevant the story would be in a short time.
The Guardian article also mentions how merchant ships arriving in Venice at the time were made to wait 40 days before they could dock and unload their cargo. It was a practice known as Quaranta Giorni — the Italian words for 40 days — and became the origin for the English word, quarantine.
“So you can see from these examples how valuable it is for us all to know a bit of history!” my neighbour said.
And as history suggests, we will also survive … but there may be a bit of pain in the process.
Cinnamon-Raisin bread, an enduring Happy Monk favourite. And here’s proof of Mildrith’s (the wood-fired oven) recent health check, as she just baked 41 loaves of this (and another 40 of Seed Feast) with lots of heat left to spare. Long live Mildrith and long live Cinnamon-Raisin bread!
Happy Monk Tidings - November 2, 2022 🍞 - BAKER'S CHOICE: Cinnamon-Raisin Bread; BLOG: A Vancouver Neighbourhood; BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan [ See LinkTree in Profile ]...
Happy Monk Tidings - September 28, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice: The Approachable Loaf; Blog: This Island of Apples; South Pender Growers and Makers Market [ See LinkTree in Profile ]
#apples #applebread #applelove #approachable #approachableloaf #breadlabcollective #breadlab...
Introducing this bread, Raven Ring Bread (a take on Hapanleipä, a Finnish bread) a recipe borrowed from @ravenbreads. The stand is made by my neighbour, Ken, a gifted woodworker. See you at the South Pender Growers and Makers Market, if it don’t rain too hard!...
Happy Monk Tidings - September 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice : Volkornbrot (German Rye); Blog: The Golden Loaf of Gorsefield Rye; NOTE: We're closing two weeks for Mildrith Maintenance [ See LinkTree in Profile ]...
It was a dirty day, Wednesday. The sky hadn't been washed, the ocean was soiled, and the air was muggy and smelled oily. Then, moments before the rain started, the sun shone through and a glorious slash of colour opened up. And a rainbow! No unicorns, sadly....
Dog days. The beginning of summer mellowness. Baked in languor. But sometimes it's hard to let go. Shouldn't I be baking something? [See LinkTree in Profile ]
#penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery
#happymonkbakingcompany #dogdays #dogdaysofsummer #southerngulfislands
#southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #southerngulfislandsbc...
This is James Morton, my father, who would have been 100 years old today if we hadn't lost him 36 years ago. I've surpassed him in living age and spent more years without him than with him, yet he still whispers in my ear and is a great listener when I talk to him. Taken at 14th Ave. and Burgess St., Burnaby, 'round about 1955. Handsome devil, ain't he?...