Early August is the beginning of summer mellowness. Time slows, the swallows swoop, the summer lawns hiss and whisper. The full-fledged season now stretches before us. It lasts only a few weeks, but in the end, it will seem like months.
Upbeat July fades away like an old postcard; the preparation and rush to the beaches and road-trip holidays, lawn furniture and picnic hampers loaded in the trunk. “Have a great summer!” the card says in barely legible handwriting. Those wishes are like promises we carry with us, entering the languorous days of August.
I drowse in the stillness, the long hours of heat tempered by a breeze off the ocean, blue skies and soft clouds. I’m on the chaise lounge, pulled into the shade of a Garry Oak. The book I brought out with me lies like a security blanket, not meant for reading but to rest on my chest while I close my eyes and dream.
The low thrum of a freighter moving through Boundary Pass. Voices in the distance, on the beach or on a passing boat. The shriek of an osprey that circles above the shoreline. It startles but has little power to rouse.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath
Now more than ever seems it rich to die
- John Keats "Ode to a Nightingale"
“Shouldn’t I be doing something?” I think. I remember that wild movie on Netflix last night, Ryan Gosling chained to a park bench, fending off bullets, seemingly, with his hand.1 I invite sleep, my quiet breath, the waves, the mused rhyme, the dragonflies and mason bees.
Yet the busyness of life beckons
I can’t quite let go. It’s Sunday. We are in the Dog Days of summer, and yes, the busyness of life beckons, like the stern Presbyterian look of my father that I see just before falling asleep. But now, as the heat shimmers off the brown grass, I see his face lighten. He lights his pipe and lies down for a while on the sundeck in his white swimming trunks and tanned torso.
Those are distant days! The trees were greener, the world was fuller with bird sounds, and mom was cooking something on the barbecue.
Can I just drift into those gentle clouds for a while?
But across the Pass, in America, wildfires burn, and judges rule against women’s bodies. People are sick all over; there is flooding in Kentucky and war in far-off places. Can I just sleep in this August torpor?
An evening swim
At dusk, I walk down the stairs to our little beach. The water is flat, the pale blue and pink sky reflecting off the surface. The sun has virtually disappeared behind Tilley Point, and the air is cooling. The Living Rock Island seems to float off Craddock Beach.
Barn swallows dive and make endless tracks over the water. They swoop down from the cliffs feasting on insects, almost invisible, catching them in their open mouths at top speed. Some fly daringly close to my head but swerve away at the last minute. Sometimes they slow themselves slightly, dip their beaks into the water and pluck something off the surface.
The water is startling. I’m gripped by it, trying to calm my breath as I swim slowly out to the rocks. My arms and torso ache with the cold. I dip my head under the surface and come up again quickly.
“Why am I doing this?” I ask. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to this frigid water, this inhospitable ocean? But an answer awaits.
Bladderwrack and bull kelp
There is little else to think about but the freezing water and its effect on my breathing. I look for seals, otters, and jellyfish. My legs brush against bladderwrack and bull kelp. I pause on a set of barnacled rocks and watch a gleaming sailboat halfway across Boundary Pass.
My body is numbing to the cold, and a delicious feeling settles over me. I’m alert, hyper-attuned to the world around me.
A year ago, I swam this place in relative isolation. Someone with binoculars could watch from a distance as I move eastwards along the base of the cliffs. But at least they were out of my sight. I felt alone.
A reverie interrupted
Now, a neighbour has built a cantilevered deck over the ledge of the rocks. There is no one there just now, but there will be soon when the house is finished. If they were in residence, they could look right down on me. My white bum, my privacy compromised.
It’s a significant change, and a note of sadness intrudes on my little reverie. Will the seals and otters feel as I do, exposed, visible as we take an evening swim?
Possibly, but even without the prominent steel deck, the new neighbours could just as well be hooting and waving, standing on the cliff’s edge as I swim by. The world crowds in.
Before swimming ashore, I make one more stop on the barnacled rocks. I’m still gripped by cold, but I’m reluctant now to end this evening’s swim. I linger offshore a few moments, then slowly climb over the rocks and up the stairs. The hot tub awaits.
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?...
Always time for a quick selfie at 4 a.m. while the bread puffs up and its aroma fills the darkness. This Friday morning the scent was deep and floral from the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. Makes the juices flow, rumbles in the tummy, drives you crazy for a hot slice and schmear of butter.
#cinnamonraisinbread #cinnamonraisin #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...