Finding The Wonder
The snow squall turns the daylight into dusk as our car follows the winding road out of town. Oblivious to the weather, it rolls along as intent as we are. Like a horse, it seems to know its way to the Amish woodshop where we are headed and, when we arrive, it seems as happy as we are. I really don’t know how many times we have driven out here. But if I count the years and multiply them by the weeks, I might come up with an approximate figure.
Jim and I started driving out to this spot east of town when we built a woodfired oven for the bakery we owned. That was in 2005. Every week, like clockwork, we would load up our empty barrels into the back of the car and make our way here. We picked up the full barrels of wood and left the empty ones to be refilled. The full barrels provided the fire for baking the bread and pizzas and other foods for many years. And, though, sometimes it seemed like a repetitive, monotonous chore, mostly it became a magical trip through the seasons and through time. Jim and I often traveled together, using that half hour out and back to catch up on our week. And as the car hummed, we looked out the windows, watching the changing countryside, the open sky.
Once there, we always took a photo of the tree across the road before picking up the wood. We never knew who we might see or talk to. Back in the day, Leroy might peek around the corner of the humming shop and chat with us about traveling or music or woodworking. He read my column and would surprise me with a comment about it when I least expected it. Sometimes, the shop was quiet and it looked like everyone had gone home. But two things never changed. Our barrels were always waiting, full of wood, and the gum tree across the road still stood watch. With the passage of time, some things do change. Leroy has gone on to his rewards. His sons have taken over the business. And I no longer own a bakery.
We do have a woodfired oven at home now and a wood stove to keep us warm in the winter. So with a little less regularity we still make the trip out. These days, I try to bring a home baked loaf of bread or some cheese from The Wedge or some home baked rolls or cookies to barter. And we only pick up one barrel instead of four. When we run into Leroy’s sons, we still chat, and talk about my columns or musical instruments. Every time we start down the road to get firewood, we know we will come home with a new photo of the tree and a barrel full of wood, and most likely, a new story. So if you’re reading this, thanks for keeping our bakery and home fires burning all of these years. And as the year comes to an end, I wish for all to find that sense of wonder in the repetitive moments of life.