Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nailed by My Bread!

similar to the container I use now--
My sourdough has bitten me more than once now.  I've written (in Alaska magazine, Sept. 2008) about the first time, a few years ago--when I dropped the starter in its crockery container and feared I'd just ruined this pasty substance I'd kept alive and productive since the summer of 1986, when son Steve and I bought it in Skagway, Alaska.

The paste was spread out on the kitchen floor like the gob of goo it is; mingled with it were shards of crockery.  But I cried, like a TV paramedic pounding on the chest of wounded character: "LiveLiveLive!" and scraped together some of the paste that looked shard-less, fed it with water and flour, baked with it the next day--though I would not allow anyone else to eat any until I was sure the experience would not be fatal.

Very, very carefully I ate the next few batches of bread, all by my lonesome.  And in one of my first bites I crunched on a piece of crockery about the size of a quarter.  How did that get by me?!?

Well, eventually, it was safe again.  Until yesterday.  When, eating a piece of this very round loaf, I bit into a nail.  Fortunately, I hadn't bitten hard; I sort of felt it before I bit it.  What the--?

I pulled the thing from my mouth, looked at it.  A nail!?  What's a nail doing in my bread?!!?

I looked with dark suspicion at Joyce, seated innocently beside me, then felt immediate shame.  She would not kill me with a nail in a slice of bread (though, to be fair, she hadn't eaten any of this batch?!); I'm sure that she--like most wives--has devised something far more appropriate, for when the time comes.

Then I figured it out.  And it was Joyce's fault.  Sort of.  Some years ago (5? 6?) after one of her Appalachian sojourns, she returned with a homemade flour scoop--tin and wood.  (Here's another one she brought later--a bigger one.)  The little one had recently died because the tin had finally separated from its little wooden handle, held there by ... nails.

(An alarming thought: The bigger scoop has BIGGER NAILS!)

I'd used it for the last time, the little feller, when I'd made this current batch of multi-grain bread.  And during one of my scoops of, oh, spelt flour, a nail must have fallen out into the mix as I was stirring it.

Here's the little weapon, in all of its one-inch glory ...

I'm going to resist the temptation to wax philosophical here--to talk about the little nails in our lives, out of our sight and expectation, just waiting to hurt us.

Instead, I'll leave with the words of Hamlet, who's stumbled across murdering Claudius at prayer and is debating whether to take him out, right then and there:

He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May ...

I now think of that nail as the he of Hamlet's speech--and I'm imagining my son, dropping by for a visit, finding me, expired,  on the floor, crumbs all around, nails littering the rug.  He picks up one of the nails--addresses it ...


  1. Just figured out that I have to click on the funny lozenge-like white spaces to get the extra pictures. I probably don't have all the updates I need (or $100 software addenda)--but if you're reading this & don't see Dan's cute photos, just nail those lozenges.

  2. After all of that, they're there. Ignore.