I have been following the self-isolation protocol since March 9, 2020. Adding the year seems essential. Maybe it’s not. Or perhaps it’s only necessary to me. I know the date because I was closely following the worldwide news about the coronavirus. When I shopped on March 8, I picked up an extra package of toilet paper, canned goods, and flour, sugar, and spices— extra basic necessities for what I was anticipating to be a long haul. My husband eyed the toilet paper. “Well, you never know.” I said. And left it at that.

On grocery store shelves, flour is scarcer than hen’s teeth. Why is everyone baking bread? What is it that makes bread our “go-to” comfort food? Is it ancestral from when flour wasn’t scarce, and instead was all we had? We could add some water and make some kind of edible sustenance.

Two weeks into self-isolation, I decided to bake for first responders. At that point, I had enough flour in my home for us, but not enough to provide baked goods for other people. My husband went to the store and found one small, two-pound bag of King Arthur flour. I didn’t even know it came in bags that small! He presented it apologetically.

I eyed that bag of flour. I had a conversation with it. I recalled all of the fairy tales and Biblical stories about trust and faith. I wouldn’t have to open the new bag quite yet. I had enough reserve to make two meat pies and two loaves of bread. After that, this two-pound bag would have to suffice until this crazy pandemic was over. Somewhere deep within me, I knew this was not true.

Since that day, in my cupboard, this two-pound bag has remained unopened. My friend has kept me in flour for several weeks so I can keep baking. She travels thirty miles to deliver it to me, and along the way, she drops off food to other homes.

In the last eight weeks, I have made several loaves of bread, more than a few batches of rolls and even several meat pies and cakes.

Maybe it is that when making bread, we hear whispers of home. Maybe when we receive it, we hear messages from our ancestors who once only had bread. And perhaps bread is nothing more than what it is. Bread.

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