On week 6, I gave a loaf of bread, as usual, to my daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike. I also gave one to Beth and John Clark, friends who live in Hartland, Maine, about an hour north from us. This means we don’t see them nearly as often as we would like. Selfishly, I wish all the people I care about lived close to me, ideally within walking or biking distance.
Beth is a professor at Husson College in Bangor, and John is Hartland’s librarian extraordinaire. (Hartland has a very small library, which means John is the library’s only employee, and he does pretty much everything by himself, with help from volunteers, of course.) They are also both fine writers, and my husband and I have been friends with them for nearly twenty years.
Not long ago I received an email from Beth, and she wrote something along the lines of, “Let’s celebrate the end of your radiation treatment. Come to Hartland, and John and I will take you and Clif out for dinner in St. Albans. Then, afterward, we can go to a dessert murder mystery theater.”
Dinner, dessert, and a mystery theater to celebrate the end of radiation treatment? All right! And I responded, “Yes, please!” just as fast as my little fingers could type.
Figuring that Beth and John’s generosity deserved something in turn, I decided to bring them a loaf of bread as well as one of our much-coveted Good Eater Desk Calendars. This I did, and the Clarks were duly grateful.
We ate at the Sunrise Restaurant in St. Albans, which serves homemade yeast rolls and, among other things, mounds of fried seafood, even when you order the small portion. In other words, our kind of place, and being true to my Good Eater moniker, I ate every bit of food on my plate.
Then, it was on to St. Albans Town Hall—a lovely old building complete with a chandelier—for an utterly delightful evening. The event was hosted by the Hartland-St. Albans Lions Club, and the play was Murderous Crossing performed by the Levi Stewart Theater Group, a twenty-five-year-old troupe that draws its members from “the Corinna area.” The play was good, silly fun, and the actors pulled in members of the audience to participate in the murder mystery.
Desserts, gloriously stretched out on long tables by the entrance, were prepared by the “Chatterbox Club ladies of St. Albans.” Readers might sense that here we have wandered into Garrison Keillor territory, and they would not be wrong. But as Keillor himself has intimated, there is something lovely and worthwhile about events, big and small, put on by volunteers and amateurs. (And I mean this in the best and truest sense.) These events bring richness and texture to a community as well as mirth and merriment, and usually for a price that can’t be beat. (In this case, $6 for the play and 50 cents for each dessert.) May such events never go out of style, and may there always be people willing to put in the hard work necessary to make them possible.
And, oh, I wish I had had a little camera tucked in my bag to take photos of the Chatterbox Club ladies and their desserts. With their permission, naturally. It would have been perfect for the blog. My husband, Clif, has a good camera, but it is big, and we don’t always bring it with us. In fact, we didn’t that night. We are seriously considering getting a little one to keep in my bag, even though it seems excessive to have two cameras.
Now, on to week 7. I am sorry to say that I did not give any bread away on week 7. First my husband, Clif, had the flu, and then, as couples often do, he kindly shared it with me. I figured nobody would want bread coming from our “plague house,” and to be truthful I just didn’t have the energy to make any. This particular flu was nasty and took the wind from our sails for an entire week. (Yes, we both got flu shots in the fall.)
So, I will need to add a qualification to my Let Them Eat Bread guidelines: It is acceptable to skip a week because of illness. The goal is still to give away 52 loaves of bread in 2011, and as of week 7, I had given away 14 loaves of bread. By hook or by crook, by yeast and by flour, I mean to get to 52 loaves.