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.