I don’t know what to make of the fire-smoke that has shrouded our view this past week.
It seems unbelievable that the particulate in the air, the grit, and ash that settles on our windows, cars, and shrubs, comes from burning forests in California, Oregon, Washington. It doesn’t make sense! A freak of nature, yet there is something to come to terms with, in this time of changing climate.
Smoky memories of childhood
Somehow, it connects with my early childhood memories of Autumn. The smell of burning leaves smoldering in the backyards of our neighbourhood in the late 1950s. The piles of large brown maple leaves, alder, oak raked by people along the street were lit afire, and the smoke would join the fall fog so that you could no longer see the end of the block in the mist.
I’d stand beside my father, who leaned on his rake, watching the leaves burn, the invisible fog horns sounding in Burrard Inlet, strange, mysterious, elusive.
The smoke from the burning leaves was pungent, yes, but it didn’t burn the throat as this smoke does.
Stinging eyes, chaffed nasal passages
Out chopping wood for last week’s bake, I could feel the smoke chaffing my nasal passages, stinging my eyes. I pictured flames consuming towering firs and cedars hundreds of miles away, their char and ash carried by the wind, then floating down like snowflakes, entering my lungs, taking root in my bronchial passages.
I don’t like smoke in my lungs. Don’t like the smell of smoke in my nostrils, unless it’s from food cooking on the grill.
I smoked a handful of cigarettes early in my life, idiotic experiments as a pre-teen. The taste of the Rothmans were horrible. I coughed and wretched and tried another as if trying to wedge myself into adulthood. Every grown-up I knew smoked, so this was a necessary evil.
But it wasn’t to be. Adulthood would come on its own terms, without the cigarettes. One sickening day, I threw two stolen unsmoked fags into the ditch. Maybe I’ll pick up this habit later, I thought. Not now.
The Cohiba that got me
Another time, I tried smoking a cigar. I imagined it a rite of passage when I became a father for the first time. Halfway through, I felt dizzy, nauseous. I wretched and threw up. When I could finally stand, I ground that half-smoked Cohiba into the grass. Many consider that a tragic waste. I threw out my copies of Cigar Aficionado magazine, too.
And now, the fire-smoke from down the coast shrouds our world. This morning, it was so thick I couldn’t see the Living Rock Island in our little bay here on South Pender. We haven’t been able to see Stuart Island or any of the other San Juans for days.
Even the sun is hard to find. Yesterday I took a picture when it appeared briefly. It was enfeebled pink in colour. It looked like a solitary Coronavirus floating in the sky, as if it, too, was drifting aimlessly, looking for a set of bronchial passages to latch onto.
Coronavirus in the sky
There’s meaning in all this, surely.
The coronavirus, smoke from the apocalyptic forest fires to the south, confusion, and division in the culture. The world is a different place than it was in the days when the smoke came from piles of raked leaves or cigarette experiments. At least we could wake up the next day and see the end of the street.
We’re too close to the foment, just now, to discern the meaning. Things are unclear. Perhaps when the smoke clears, and we can see off into the distance, the new world will rise up before us and it will all make sense.
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?...