Snow Bread

playhouse

When it snows a genuine New Hampshire snow like it did this past week, a storm that whips in across the north side of Saddleback Mountain to isolate our farm even more than it always is, someone in our household bakes bread.

Snow always seems to bring out the best bread. Maybe it’s the way I track snow through the house when bringing in a storm day’s extra firewood. Maybe it’s the wind that follows at my heels. Or maybe it’s some combination of the two that settles into the kitchen and rallies the yeast. Something happens. Because kneaded, proofed, and baked a full thirty minutes—every time—the bread we turn out onto the cooling rack is always better bread. Snow bread, we call it, it having long ago earned the right to its own name.

What happens next, of course, is the three of us (woman, man, child) surround the counter and eat at least one loaf outright in a single standing. We slice off thick pieces, pass them, we pass the jam. We lick our fingers, mill around, and all the while we feast we stare hypnotically out the windows at the snow and cold, at the enormity of it, the strength—our lane disappeared, our pasture and gardens disappeared, the entire mountain we live on disappeared.

Yet here inside the house we’re warm. The bread is warm, our cheeks, stomachs, and knees are warm. There’s new fire in the stove.

So maybe it’s more the simple fact of juxtaposition that renders snow bread superior, that instinctual understanding each of us has of inside/outside, warm/cold—it reminds us that, while we can never be sure on which side we’ll be standing tomorrow, for now at least, right here, right now in the kitchen by the butter dish, we’re doing okay. We’ve got bread, there’s plenty of it, and as for you, snow, that’s fine—pound the windows as you will.

8 responses to “Snow Bread

  1. this post makes me smile as i read it. i think i smell bread too. yes, sometimes winter is comforting, a blanket, peace, restful… and the bread certainly helps. ‘snow bread’. congratulations on that one. that’s sticking with me.
    (and good job not fighting over then end pieces like we do in our house)

    • eumaeus and the crusty end pieces! what do you have to say about annie?

      • oh, i don’t know about annie. i just read for the pure experience. the version that i had had some post script, 20 years on or something, and it was neat to hear her perspective change. she was obviously young, vibrant and it came through. there’s stuff i’ll never forget: the image of her balanced, like on one leg or something, frozen when the muskrat is looking her way and smoking a cigarette… I had to read fast and i was moved numerous times . of course we want to be moved all of the time (every minute). but I read with a plan to read again. I knew i would read again. I’m sure I’ll catch new places to be moved next time and be moved again in the same way in places too. i guess that’s all i have to say about annie now. god love her. she’s out there somewhere smoking and balancing with the muskrats as we speak.

  2. More snow bread coming…

  3. There is nothing in the whole world quite like fresh baked bread. It has a way of bringing everyone closer. It is the same story here on our tiny lil homestead. One of the all time favorites in these parts is the cinnamon bread French toast. Usually a whole loaf is sacrificed for this endeavor, and we spend the rest of the day being full. Great post. Thank you for sharing.

  4. What a lovely post! You captured perfectly that good feeling that surrounds, when cozy inside with bread fresh from the oven! My daughters and I used to make “snow cakes” which are easy flat breads made with freshly fallen clean snow mixed equal parts with corn meal, flattened into rounds and baked in a hot oven. There is something in the fresh snow that makes them rise. They are plain and very crusty, but fine hot from the oven with a pot of chili…and a once a year thing, most years. Thanks!

  5. You’ve expressed so eloquently why winter is my favorite season (even though there is rarely any snow in Louisiana). I just find it to be the warmest season, cold though the weather may be. <3

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