Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shall We Break Bread Together?

Some of you may remember reading about Tim's Uncle Herman.

This is Uncle Herman's cane. He wants to make sure that you all understand that this is not sassafras, but hickory. So if you are inclined to make your own cane, he guesses you'd want to tie a knot in a hickory sapling. Then you patiently wait three years, and then go out there and cut it down. Varnish it up and put a rubber tip on it, and there you go. You got yourself a dandy walking stick. It is also good for emphasizing a point when you are talking.

Anyways, this is a brick oven that Uncle Herman and Uncle Harold made years upon years upon years ago. Uncle Harold passed on, oh, probably, 8 years ago now. Well, Tim and I got up early, and were on the road at 7 AM, because we had to pick up Uncle Herman at 9, sharp. We were driving him out to Uncle Harold's. Tim and he had the mighty responsibility of getting the brick oven fired up. Well. Uncle Herman had the responsibility, Tim being a mere peon in the operation. The fire is started. Once the oven heats up to 425 or 450 or so, once the bricks are good and hot, you reach in there and drag out all the fire.
Then you begin to fill it with all the different kinds of bread.
It will hold about 22 loaves.Keep on keeping on, Mike and Dave. There's about 40 loaves of bread there, two firings worth. Uncle Herman has to keep an eye on the young wet-behind-the ears-whipper snappers. A very close eye.
While we wait for the bread to bake, people socialize. Here are two of the matriarchs of this mighty gathering. Anna is on the left. She is Herman's wife. Aunt Mary Jane is the widow of Uncle Harold. She's in a nursing home now, but was able to come back home to her farm to spend the day with her family.This is the view behind the bread oven.
Now, while Uncle Herman might well be the undisputed master of the brick oven, everyone knows that Aunt Anna is the undisputed judge of when the bread is done. That's her in the foreground cutting into a 'test' loaf. The hand on her back is pretending to be supportive, but he's actually sticking real close to be the taste tester. The greedy critter just wants the first bite. Don't you think the woman carefully documenting this day should be the taste tester? Excuse me while I put down my camera and go straighten this deluded charactor out.
I'm back.
Driven mad by the prolonged exposure to the smell of baking bread, the old guy fought hard.
I did not want it said that I, an outsider, was responsible for bloodshed at the
Oglesby-Winkler family reunion.
So I cried.
He shared.
It may have been 'pity bread' but it was warm from the oven!
Little toes wiggle in delight.

Finally, Anna gives the official, unchallengeable word. 'The bread is ready to come out of the oven.' The crowds roared.
They began to salivate in earnest, anyways.

Tim and Gene get right to work. The crowds press in from all sides. Can you blame them? Imagine a table of fresh hot bread, with butter, and honey butter, herb butter, and honey from Aletha's hives, and jams, not just the Welch's, but Uncle Chuck's homemade strawberry jam, and Ellen's elderberry jam, so many others, homemade.


And we broke bread together.

And, lo, it was good.

Very, very good.


Redlefty said...

Dang, I shouldn't have read this right before bed. Now I'm hungry!

BB said...

What a wonderful pic story... I can smell the bread from here. Mmmmmmmmm! Making me hungry. Also adore the walking stick and the hairdo at the end.

Scotty said...


steviewren said...

I can almost smell it too. You lucky doggie!

Does the family bring potluck to eat with the bread or do you just get together, bake and eat the bread...just asking cause this is the most unusual family reunion festivities I've ever heard of...but what do I know...I live in Alabama ...we barbecue here.

Debby said...

Stevie - yes, everyone brings something to share. Away from the brick oven, there's meat being cooked. Sadly, the meat master is not so revered as the makers of the bread, but his job is no less important. Then everything goes to another covered area, one table full of deserts, another full of side dishes.

Mikey said...

That's so beautiful!
I love that cane too, lol, that's pretty neat!!!
PS, we're still playing wth sparklers :) Thank you!

jeanie said...

Oh wow - what a great family gathering!!! I can almost feel the texture of that bread here.

PaintedPromise said...

mmmmmm i can smell it too... i want mine with honey please :)