Quiet morning before bread-baking festivities.

Christmas and New Year’s tradition, baking
Bread, family from Atlantic Canada meet in
Maine, in-laws and distant cousins, Fundy
Ferry, snowy drives through New Brunswick,
Three generations converge in Eastport, Maine,
Cape Cod house north of town. Here, grands,
Mothers, and daughters take to grain flour,
Baking pans, joys of oven-warmed kitchens,
Steamy stoves, handed-down recipes, dense
Brown bread baked in coffee cans.

Names on old pencil-written recipes told of
Earlier days, “One-Egg Bread,” “Mother Mary’s,”
And “Honey Biscuit Bread.” Equally telling were
Marginal notes: “No Onion Milk!” when cows
Strayed from fenced pastures, or “Remember
Yeast,” “Baked into dead white,” or simply put,
“Be patient during proving.” Thus, breads were
Spare-plain, rising for one dinner, or were
Brimming with ingredients, nuts, blueberries,
Butter, salt, measured in dabs and pinches.

Decades before air-circulating ovens, ceramic
Cooktops, woodstove ovens heated unevenly
On firebox side, breads baked more on one
Side than bottom, requiring turning black-iron
Baking pans to even-out the heat. Gas ovens
In Maine burned baking hot, young daughters
Learnt bread kneading on flower-dusted
Wooden countertops, adding molasses,
Nutmeg, pureed pumpkin by the pound.

“Women of our family bonded…”

Thus, women of our family bonded, we learnt
From recipes of aunts and grands long-passed,
Their penciled entries still with us today. Soon
Parents moved from lantern light of drafty
Saltbox houses, fishing stations, Newfoundland
And Nova Scotia, to coast of Maine. Scattered
Along these cold waters, we needed meals hot
And invigorating, coffee, tea, fresh cod fish,
Pot of beans, home-baked bread, keeping
Families strong, working on Gulf of Maine.

For more on Maine or New England brown bread, see this link:
http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2012/03/new-england-brown-bread.html  Thanks for reading — and for baking bread.   

Social profiles