I went for a run yesterday and, for the first time in over two months, pushed the pace a little bit. Not a lot, I don’t want to risk injury two weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon, but just enough to get the wheels turning. It felt great. I love speed. My favorite sensation when I am running is to feel myself flying down the road (flying is a relative term at my age).
When I got home, I decided to treat myself to a piece of homemade bread, toasted and slathered in butter and homemade strawberry jelly.
Maybe this is heresy in the new gluten-free, low-carbohydrate world, but I love bread. I love to eat it, and I love to make it. The loaf pictured above is sourdough, made from my own starter (no added commercial yeast) which I have cultured for almost ten years.
A few weeks ago, I thought I killed my starter due to lack of attention. I allowed it to languish, unfed, in my refrigerator for weeks. It developed a weird smell, not tangy, like sourdough starter is supposed to smell, just… weird. I tried to use it to make a loaf of bread. The resulting loaf had the approximate consistency of a brick. Ugh! I pitched most of the starter, set the container on my kitchen counter so I would remember it, and put it on advanced life support by feeding and stirring it twice a day.
After babying it for over a week, it revived. When I looked in the jar each morning a bubbly, lively, tangy-smelling blob with a healthy mix of living bacteria and yeast greeted me. This is the first loaf I made with the resuscitated mixture. It was good – not as tangy as usual, but that special sourdough tanginess will come back in time.
As bread-makers know, there is no instant gratification when it comes to bread, especially sourdough bread. I began making this loaf at 8:00 in the morning, and it was ready by 6:00 that evening. I have sometimes allowed the dough to rise overnight, which increases the sharp sourdough flavor.
Kneading the dough is like meditating. It is a mindless, repetitive activity that must be kept up for 10 minutes or so, during which your mind is likely to wander. After I meditate for 10 minutes, I have a clear-headed, lighter, calmer feeling; after kneading dough for 10 minutes, I get the same feeling, plus a ball of dough that eventually will be turned into approximately a pound of delicious, crusty, chewy brown heaven.
Making bread reminds me of this quote by Ursula Le Guin “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” Yes, love. Constantly remade. Ever changing and ever new.
I think sometimes that we are sold a bill of goods in the fairy tales that we tell to children, especially to little girls, as pointed out in the song “Fairytale” by Sara Bareilles. We are told that once you find your Prince Charming, the rest of your life will be “happily ever after.” We go into our marriages never expecting to have to work to keep them alive.
Maybe “work” isn’t the right word. Maybe we just have to pay attention, as I did to my sourdough starter. We have to nourish our love, to feed it, we can’t allow it to sit on a shelf in the cold refrigerator for weeks or months or even years, untended and unappreciated.
It’s a common occurrence. It happened to me. We get complacent, we forget, we get caught up in the everyday trials of working, raising a family, carving out a little bit of space for personal growth and happiness. And the life, the bubbles, the froth goes out of our relationships a little bit at a time, without us noticing.
When my husband and I realized what was happening, we put our love on life support. We threw out what didn’t work, fed our love every day (sometimes twice a day) and focused on what was important to us. To us. That’s the way love is. As long as there is that one living cell, that one spark of life, you can come back, and we wanted to come back.
This was years ago. The resuscitation was, thankfully, successful. Last winter, Bill showed me a “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip by Stephan Pastis that caused my eyes to swim with tears. In it, the six stages of marriage were depicted. A lot of insight for a six-panel comic strip.
- In the first panel, a bride and groom are pictured telling each other “You’re the greatest thing that ever happened to me.“
- In the second, they are sitting at opposite sides of the couch saying “You’re not as great as I thought.“
- Next the couple, obviously older, tell each other angrily “You need to change.“
- The couple, now gray-haired then realize “You can’t be changed.“
- In the fifth panel, the elderly couple embraces, saying “I accept you as you are.“
- The final panel shows the husband, alone, sitting beside a grave marker saying “You’re the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
Luckily, my hubby and I made it to the fifth panel.
I now realize that if we are given the incredible gift of love, the least we can do is not take it for granted. If there is someone you love, tell them, show them how much you appreciate the special and unique person they are. Make them aware your love for them is significant, essential. Do it today. Feed your love. Then stir it up a little bit and watch the bubbles. You’ll be glad you did.
I am linking up with Clean Eats Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging and Dream Team, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, blovedboston for Weekending, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Char at Trekking Thru, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, and Mary-andering Creatively for LMM.