Bread and the Bird of Heaven

He’s back! I went out this morning to do Ten Breaths, and the moment I stepped out onto the porch, there was his whistle. One long, clear call in the dawn air. I listened longer, and he kept piping occasionally, one or two or three long notes at a time. I think I saw him, too, pulling apart a sycamore ball to get the nourishing seeds, but the rising sun was behind him so he was in silhouette. I waited, but he was busy, too busy to call more than a single whistle at a time. Then, just as the chill drove me to turn back indoors, there it was, the full trill: “O-ri-ole!” My shining bird friend is back in the hollow.

Yesterday I decided to make sun rolls to celebrate the May. I don’t have a recipe for sun rolls–I’m not sure there is one, really. It just seemed like the thing to do on a crisp May Day to welcome the turning of the season.

So when I went out for yesterday’s Ten Breaths and to wash my face in May Day dew (because that’s what you do), I picked dandelions. I couldn’t resist the violets that grow so thickly next to the locust grove, so I picked some of those as well. The poor dandies looked utterly brutalized by the previous day’s rain. I brought them in and washed them and laid them on a cloth to dry. Within an hour, they’d perked up, as if they were outside on their stalks. The Life Force is powerful in dandelions.

If I were to write a book about magic, I think the second chapter might be about dandelions. The first chapter would be about yeast. Yeast is primordial. Yeast is ylem. I’m pretty sure I am not using that word quite correctly, but I have commandeered it for my own purposes. Ylem, according to Dictionary.com, is “the primordial matter of the universe, originally conceived as composed of neutrons at high temperature and density.” I just stop at primordial matter of the universe, and take my meanings from there. Yeast is ylem.

I used my typical recipe for rolls, warming the milk, adding salt and a little flour and yeast. Because these were to be sun rolls, I exchanged the sugar for honey to celebrate the Little Sisters who have been busy in that dandelion patch. And I let the mix bubble for ten minutes. Really, is there any more magical moment in daily existence than coming to the bowl of yeast and flour after ten minutes to see the transformation that has occurred there? The scent of living, growing Life Force, the eager face of the bubbly risen mix. There’s a sound as well, or perhaps I have imagined it, of the bubbles. . .gurgling, plipping, popping, bubbling. . . Life Force.

I always start mixing bread in the stand mixer a friend of mine gave to me when she moved. It makes the process a little simpler, but I also love the feeling of connection it gives me. Even solitary bread-making is communal. I have my recipe mostly memorized, but I keep the cookbook handy on the counter, because that, too, was written by a friend, and it adds to the web of connections I am building as the gluten is aligning in the dough.

Yesterday, I added about a cup of yellow dandelion petals when I added the extra flour (flowers and flours), and used the mixer to bring the dough together, but I need to knead by hand: I love the feeling of kneading a good dough. Then it was rise and shape and rise and bake.

In the meantime was a bittersweetness. I haven’t seen my parents for seven weeks, and we had an exchange to make. They’re giving their old laptop to my boy, and they were out of whole wheat flour, and my mom needed some more crochet hooks and yarn. I had felt a little sheepish about buying two bags of whole wheat when I was out last week, and now it seems there was a reason. So we went to the trailer at the entrance to their retirement community to make the drop off–we’re not allowed to go on campus, and we’re grateful that they are so protected. There they were, and we got to see them and to say hello, from a distance, and through our masks. I didn’t realize how hard it would be not to hug. That was a challenge. The closeness emphasized the distance, but it was marvelous to see them.

They gave us another bag, too, with cookies and a couple pieces of chocolate cake, and a bottle of elderberry mead, perfect for a celebration of May Day. What a treat! So my May Day was sun rolls and mead and chocolate cake, the Life Force in flowers and yeast and honey, and a glimpse of my beloveds.

And now, this shining morning after, the call of the Bird of Heaven from the sycamore.

Gratitude List:
1. Oriole is back!
2. Elderberry mead
3. Yeasty sun rolls
4. Connections and community
5. Life Force evident everywhere

May we walk in Beauty!


“The only time incorrectly is not spelled incorrectly is when it is spelled incorrectly.”


“There is no such thing as one-sided generosity. Like one ecosystem, we are each at different times receiving or purging, growing or pruning. In those moments when you believe you aren’t receiving enough, consider what you most want to receive might be the thing you need to give away.” —Toko-pa Turner


“Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.” —Henry David Thoreau


“Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.” —Joanna Macy


“What if the Creator is like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s God: “like a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence”?

What if the Source of All Life inhabits both the dark and the light, heals with strange splendor as much as with sweet insight, is hermaphroditic and omnisexual?

What if the Source loves to give you riddles that push you past the boundaries of your understanding, forcing you to change the ways you think about everything?

What if, as Rusty Morrison speculates in “Poetry Flash,” “the sublime can only be glimpsed by pressing through fear’s boundary, beyond one’s previous conceptions of the beautiful”?

Close your eyes and imagine you can sense the presence of this tender, marvelous, difficult, entertaining intelligence.” —Rob Brezsny

Giving Voice

Today is Lammas, or Lughnassad, the midpoint (give or take a couple days) between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. Traditionally, it was celebrated as a day of joyful harvest. The wheat would have been harvested and ground into flour, and people would bake loaves of bread and bring them to the churches and community celebrations for blessing the harvest of the year.

Here at Goldfinch Farm, this is the Season of the Ripening Tomato, the Season of Butterflies, the Season of Basil, of Zinnias, of Hummingbirds, of Cicadas.

What will you make of your harvest this year?
What shape will you give to your loaves?
What do you notice happening in the world around you?
What images and messages will you carry with you into the coming season?


“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”  ―Annie Dillard
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“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.” ―Rabindranath Tagore
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“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”  ―Thich Nhat Hanh
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“In the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.”
—Thomas Berry
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“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” —Jerry Garcia
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“I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between the organism and its environment. The environment is in you. It’s passing through you. You’re breathing it in and out. You and every other creature.” —Wendell Berry
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“Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.”
—Mary Lou Kownacki
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“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.” —Mary Oliver
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“What is it in your life that calls you to be bigger than you think is possible for yourself and for the world?” —Julia Butterfly Hill


Gratitude List:
1. Letting go
2. Grabbing hold
3. Slipping through
4. Standing silently
5. The wheel turns

May we walk in Beauty!

Tomato Sandwich!

2011 June 190
This wasn’t today’s sandwich.  I ate that too fast to even think of a photo.  I think that is a Cherokee Purple tomato.

Gratitude List:
1.  The first tomato sandwich!  That crusty, yeasty brown bread and an Iron Lady tomato with sharp cheddar and mayo and salt.  Oh my, oh my, oh my. . .
2.  Was it Andrea who said something at break today about a man who said that when he was a boy he could hear corn growing?  Like a whistling sound, he told her.  I love that so much.
3.  Life force.  That corn up there in #2, and the mung bean sprouts that Ellis grew this week, how they pushed up the lids, and then grew an extra half inch in a hour this morning.
4.  The old, old woman from my dream last night.  Her name is Grafa.  “Sometimes I wake up in the night and fling off the covers,” she tells me.  “I wake up in the middle of the night just to tweak the energy a bit.”  Grafa–writing or drawing?  From Old Norse or Proto-Germanic (according to Wiktionary), means to dig, to bury, to engrave.
5.  The random way that Joss throws words together or sings a word repeatedly while he’s playing, just for the fun of the sounds.  “My teeth are devious!”  “My foot of God.”  “Nairobi, Nairobi, Nairobi!”

May we walk in beauty.