Tuesday, May 13, 2008

petunia, perimeter, routines

The delicacy of the veins in the petals surprises me. You don't notice them until you see the photograph.

We go to a neighbour's 8oth birthday party. There I talk to an elderly acquaintance, whom I bump into sometimes in Hall's bookshop and sometimes in the Grove. He informs me that the perimeter path round the Grove measures 483 yards (441 meters). He says that a former resident, who used to walk fast round the Grove several times a day for exercise, had asked the Council for these measurements so that she could better plan her regime. Four times round and she had walked a mile. I didn't know her, but I used to see her in a track suit, grim-faced and looking neither to left nor right.

Creative routines where there is something to show for your work are the best sort of daily or weekly bench marks. High up on my list of such routines is bread making. I enjoy keeping the yeast starter foaming gently in a small jug and feeding it daily. Then there is the preparation of what bakers call a sponge, a loose almost liquid dough, where the flavour of the flour is allowed to develop. This is used later to ferment the final dough. Mixing this in the food processor and then kneading the resultant dough by hand for a minute or two is another source of satisfaction. The ball of dough on the table, lightly dusted with flour, full of energy and promise, has a sensuous feel about it, which takes you back through thousands of years of bread-making. Noting how much the dough has risen every time you visit the the bowl in which it is sitting, is another pleasure. So too is knocking back the dough and placing it in tins to prove. Baking the bread and airing the hot loaves on a wire rack is a fitting climax. If it sounds complicated, think that the different tasks involved, when spread over several hours are, none of them, hard or time consuming, and you will understand the simple delight of seeing flour and water become bread
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