The dough rises whether we punch it or not.
The yeast is meant for scent.
The salt came first.
The wheat is loving the oven.
The body craves its various breads
as it craves stars in summer
or snow in December.
The smells of bread are a beatitude.
The crusts of bread are undulant land.
Even the baker dreams of kneading
and needing, of smelling and
tasting and salting,
of rising under an awning of rain.
What I love most about Laurie Kutchins’s “Bread Ode” is the attention she gives to all the senses: salty undulations, crusty cravings, and smells of yeast, wheat and falling rain.
I also like this business of kneading and needing.
Reflecting on the first six months of Driftless Sourdough’s existence I have realized that from the very beginning Driftless Sourdough has been a quest of kneading and needing: literally experiencing the physical exertion of kneading dough, figuratively kneading, turning and shaping my ideas and identity through a creative start-up business, while also needing ways to bring people together around local foods, learning and storytelling.
Trying to start a successful micro-bakery in Midcoast Maine at the start of winter came with a few challenges. Because sourdough takes nearly 48 hours from start to finish, it was essential that I keep a close eye on the weather forecast, because bad road conditions could prevent potential customers or myself from getting to the bakery. It is also just a naturally slow time of year for selling bread and that can be discouraging.
Collecting stories has been a piece of Driftless Sourdough that keeps me going when I feel discouraged. One time I met a man who bought a loaf at the Alna Store on a baking day and told me about the hearty rye breads he ate on Russian freighters and how he sometimes makes his own bread from cattail pollen.
Another place that I’ve found stories and connection is through teaching sourdough bread baking classes at the FARMS Kitchen above Rising Tide Co-op, a place where I sell my breads and used to work as a soup-maker.