baking bread, naming trees

I baked two loaves of bread the other day. This might not seem like such a radical thing. People have been baking bread for centuries. I got the idea from the book I’ve been reading, The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson. In it, he says “if you can make bread, you can do anything. It’s amazing how much confidence baking bread gives you.” My family and I have been eating this bread, which is so much more substantial that supermarket bread, for three days now, enjoying it with our dinners or toasting it for breakfast. It’s a gratifying sight to see your three-year-old son eating the bread you baked. I’ve cooked many meals for my family but for some reason making bread has been the most fulfilling cooking I’ve ever done. And it’s thrifty. Another of Mr. Hodgkinson’s mantras is to “reject waste, embrace thrift.” He advises us to throw out the telly and stop buying magazines. These devices just entice us to buy things we don’t need. Ride a bicycle, the thriftiest invention ever! I just saw an ad on television for Lowe’s, a chain of home improvement stores. Spring is here, and so now we must start our “outdoor projects” Gene Hackman, their paid spokesperson tells us. We are forever working, even during our leisure time. “Let’s build something together” Mr. Hackman exhorts. More like “Spend a lot of money at Lowe’s, using your Lowe’s credit card, and then go home because now you’re on your own, friend.” Commercials never tells us that spring is here and now it’s time to lay in the grass, do nothing, and watch the clouds pass overhead. For the stores, there’s no money to be made in promoting idleness. But it feels so much better to be thrifty than to shop. Shopping will never gratify us. That’s why we keep doing it. If we were ever really gratified, we’d stop shopping tomorrow. But that’s not in the stores’ best interest. To always keep us wanting for more is their philosophy. But what a sweet victory thrift is over waste! For example, I found a free book in a donation bin a few days ago, a guide to identifying trees of North America. It’s one of these old fashioned Golden guides, with colorful drawings instead of photographs. I didn’t pay a cent for it, and yet my children and I have been enjoying looking at trees and trying to find them in the book so as to name them. We found out that the tree in our front yard is (probably) a Norway maple. We’ve lived in our house for almost ten years and never knew that. For the longest time the tree in our front yard was just named “tree.” But now it has a name. And just yesterday my son said that when he got out of preschool he wanted to “look for trees.” Now that’s much better than television.

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