I spent an hour riding through the countryside and surrounding villages near my home. (I know, I know, "only drive for 20 minutes at a time"...but I took lots of pictures, so I reasoned that I was resting every time I stopped.) The truth is, I was getting tired. I was also noticing some anxiety arising as the fatigue was growing. Anxiety adds another layer to the tiredness, decreasing my ability to pay attention when driving. This combination has a potent impact on the functioning of my neurons. Just then, I noticed a sweet looking spot to stop, rest and refuel.
A bakery I had never noticed before. I parked my car, right next to the door, got out, took in a deep breath of spring-like air (we were having a few days of thaw) stepped inside the shop, leaning wearily on my cane. WoW! I felt like I had been transported to a realm of pure sensory delights. The aroma, the golden glow of fresh warm loaves, ahhh, these were not just any loaves. The sign in the parking lot said artisan bakery; these were well crafted works of art indeed. Elegant antler-like baguettes stacked, round loaves dressed with spirals of flour piled in baskets, a perfectly placed sprig (I think it was cilantro) and garlic, like a bud emerging from the center of one particularly striking doughy mound. Edible art. Did I mention the variety of grain combinations and all the seeds texturing the surfaces of the loaves yet? Or unusual dried fruits like figs, baked right in? I have never been the kind of woman to turn down fresh bread (even while others are scooping out the center of their bagels to save on carbs)...I LOVE BREAD! Just don't ask me to bake it myself...it is always, always a disaster. Ask my kids...no, never mind, don't ask my kids. They will surely tell you scary details about my lead-bread escapades of the past.
So, me being me, I asked if I could take some pictures of their comely loaves because they were so astonishingly beautiful. Go figure, the baker said, "Yes, of course." Hard to know from her smile if this was a regular request, but clearly it made her happy. I went out to the car, put down my glasses, picked up my camera, hobbled back in.
How to snap a photo while using a cane: Set the cane against a table. Position yourself to take stunning pictures of artistically arranged, painstakingly designed, deliciously baked bread. Voila.
Did I mention the scones with sharp Vermont cheddar & chives? I had to purchase some bread to be sure it was as mouth-wateringly delicious as it appeared to be. Again. WoW! These weren't just Good "looking" Loaves.
A cup of Jasmine tea in my left hand, camera in my back pocket; I balance tea, scone and loaf of fresh bread for dinner in hands while somehow opening the car door. Drive home. Rest until the kids return from school. Oh, no. One needs picking up. Get Belin. Drive her to PT. Park in handicapped space. Uh, oh, I forgot to bring my cane to PT. I'm tired, but I can manage, as it is not too far to the elevator and then the correct office. Drive home, debating in my mind...I would love some home-made vegetable soup to go with that bread with the roasted pumpkin seeds for dinner...I'm way too tired and it's too late to put up a pot of soup now. Drive a bit further than planned to purchase soup for the family from a favorite cafe to take home with us. It is now dark and I am really nervous about driving in the dark. My hands are numbing up…my right ankle painful. So much more for my now exhausted brain to process. But we make it home fine, and everyone is delighted by the gift of artisan bread, the best part of dinner.
Fast forward. I cannot find my cane anywhere. It's been 3 days. I've looked and looked. I figure, well, part of having MS (at least for me) is forgetfulness. I probably need to have several canes; this is going to happen sometimes. Some days I need the added assistance of a cane other days I don't, but I have to have one on hand always for the days I do. I say to Gord, "We better pick up a new cane today, maybe several...(I laugh at myself-I was always one to misplace things like keys for example...but a cane is a lot bigger and easier to spot than a set of keys...this is beyond my pre-MS forgetfulness). "Lets play hooky from life this morning" I suggest, "and go for a pretty drive before running errands"...and Gord says, "Show me where that bakery is while we are out."
We take a drive-I'm achy as it's -1F when we leave the house. My neurons are not appreciating the severe cold. I'm grateful to be a passenger, now that we are back to "normal" January temperatures. I snap some lovely photos (to post sometime in the future). We both feel relaxed and happy, joy riding on this cold, clear January morning. I actually remember where the bakery is located and we stop. He is as delighted as I was the first time I stepped inside. My heart sings on the second visit as well. We carefully select a hardy, crusty rye and two more of the cheddar & chive scones and tea (a light morning snack). I chat with the cashier in a friendly way. I don't know why, but for some reason, I look down and to the left edge of the counter. There it is, my cane, just hanging there next to the register! I say, "Hey, that's my cane, I've been looking everywhere for it!" The young woman looks at me more carefully, perhaps remembering my face or that I took photos (or maybe my unique accent). "Yeah, we thought it was some kind of miracle," she laughs, "person walks in with cane, tastes our bread and walks out healed."
I thought about this. In a way it was true. I walked out of there last week with a full, contented heart. I had been to my "Happy Place". I was distracted by JOY, and perhaps too many things in my hands to remember the cane. It was a healing of sorts. Temporary, as I really needed my cane that second morning, as fortune smiled and I found it again...but the lingering memory of the fragrance, warmth, colors and shapes of the breads in the bakery...this will be a healing place, a "happy place" to go to in my mind for a very long time. (Also not a very far drive from the Gnome Mound!!!)
The bakery is called The Good Loaf, click on the link to read an article about this "happy place". If you happen to be passing through southern New Hampshire some day, here's the address: 75 Mont Vernon Road Milford, NH 03055...totally worth the drive!