I eat bread and take naps.

Last week I took a nap three days in a row, something I’m sure I hadn’t done since I was three years old! What it was about my condition or the environment that facilitated that, I am still pondering….

I’d flown from my daughter’s new home in Wisconsin to Tucson, Arizona, to visit friends Martin and Mabel. Those are nicknames, of course. If I didn’t care about preserving their privacy I’d use their real names, which are more beautiful and carry for me some of the flavor of who they are. These people are dear to me because of what we have shared over several decades: joys and sorrows and homeschooling, food and gardens, chickens and laughing and lots of babies. And over all and in all, the love of God.

Mabel confessed to me once that she just wanted “to make bread and babies,” and I always wished I had thought to say that first. But no one could hope to match her turns of phrase, songs that spring up from her good heart ready to bless and teach, and her amazing metaphors. On this visit she described Martin and herself as being a heavy stone on the end of a string, keeping a helium balloon with a happy face on it from floating away. I don’t remember who was symbolized by the balloon (It wasn’t me!)

The temperature was mostly in the 80’s while I was there, maybe the low 90’s, but as their house is about 2500′ elevation and the desert air is so dry, I never felt uncomfortably warm. Their spirit was peaceful, no air conditioning spoiled the mild October atmosphere, Mabel and Martin both cooked healthy food for me, and the bed was firm. I took the cure.

We talked and talked, drank tea, and walked a little  –  then I strolled alone Sunday morning in the cool air, and admired the mesquite trees, ocotillos, purple cactuses and palo verde trees. I attended Divine Liturgy at the elegant and evidently new Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church.

Mabel has not stopped making bread, and she fed me two kinds — first a hearty no-knead oatmeal stout bread baked during my visit. Then sourdough rye from a Tassajara Bread Book recipe; she sliced a good portion of that loaf into a ziploc for me to take on my journey home. I can’t remember ever eating anything like that bread, each fat slice sustaining enough to the body and soul that a single one would have done for a meal — but orange zest, caraway and other seeds combined in a flavor whirl that made me unwilling to wait for the next meal to have that experience again.

I think God knew that it would be hard to come back home where the fires were still burning, to a ravaged land full of sad stories, so He provided these friends to remind me of and lavish on me His everlasting Love, to shore me up beforehand. And He surprised me with naps!

I hadn’t cracked open my own copy of the Tassajara Bread Book in a very long time — my book that I bought because of Mabel in the first place. But I came home determined to revive once again my old sourdough habits, at least long enough to bake up a batch of that Sourdough Rye. It’s not as easy to turn out a homey metaphor or proverb that pleases, or to make pizza dough like Martin does, but I guess that just means I’ll have to visit again soon.

 

 

14 thoughts on “I eat bread and take naps.

  1. So very thankful that God met your needs! He is good and His mercy endureth forever! I also was sick with the devastation of fire through our lovely landscape this summer as we traveled. But God showed His way of renewal in it. It was time to renew! From the devastation of the pine beetle and these fires I had to learn that He doeth ALL things well, even renewal that feels like loss, but gives back beauty for ashes eventually. Love reading your blog…

    Leslie

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  2. Oh, I love reading about your friends, your history, their good souls. It reminds me of Laurel’s Kitchen but with Jesus.

    I am always so pleased when I have a good nap, not being a napper anymore.

    God be with you, good friend.

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  3. My daughter and her family live in Tuscon now. They love it too. That bread is just beautiful. I am so glad you were able to take three naps. I am glad you were able to get out of the smoke and fires for a little while. Your pictures are wonderful. Did your walking area with the creek burn up too?

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  4. I think that sometimes our bodies know more than we do. We might think we are coping well, but our body says, no – fright, shock, grief – all of those require more energy to deal with, so more sleep, please. Naps are a gift to help us heal. I imagine you will have some work to do supporting your community in the coming months, so sleep well and gather your strength 🙂

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  5. Bread for the body; naps for the soul. It’s a perfect combination, and a perfect cure for every sort of anxiety and tiredness. I’m so glad you’re having this time of respite. Enjoy every minute (as I know you will).

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  6. Oh, GJ, I just sent you an email saying I hope you would be settling back in at home again soon – and there you are! I know it’s hard to come back to such a gutted landscape, and to such stories of loss! I’m sorry. I’m glad you could leave and be rejuvenated in spirit and body elsewhere.

    Before I even finished reading the post, I dashed over to abebooks.com, and found a copy of that bread cookbook for $3.64, and ordered it for Adam for Christmas 🙂 Your description of the rye bread with the orange zest was mouth-watering. I can tell from your description of your friends that I would love to know them too. I’m sure that one good reason for eternity on a new earth is that we will all have time to get to know all these friends we ought to know, but can’t in this life.

    Blessings to you, dear.

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    1. Mary Kathryn, as I’m looking at the cookbook I figured out that Mabel combined the sourdough recipe with the Summer Swedish Rye recipe to make that delectable loaf I tasted. I hope Adam has fun with it! 🙂

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  7. So glad you have had a twofold ‘rest cure’! I’ve been thinking of you and your neighbours with all the fires this year. The BC interior fires were worse than usual, and prevailing winds changed so that the smoke was coming all the way down to the coast and the islands for most of the summer. Friends in Portugal are still threatened, especially because of all the eucalyptus plantations. Thank you for taking us with you to these two oases of love and beautiful surroundings – and for the lovely comment on my Chez Swan post.

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  8. What a great bread book; my copy is packed (only God knows which box) and it’s a lovely read as well as text. Gretchen, I’m behind on visits but want to let you know, when I visit your blog it reminds me (so very much) of my visits to Russia and Eastern Europe. What wonderful memories you stir in me, thank you.

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