The Stories Of Tradition

Is there beauty in the comet tail of a shooting star regardless of the world that lost its sun? Somethings that appear beautiful may not be and others that seem lacking may be full. Sometimes the story matters.

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I have a heavy knife with a worn wooden handle and a blade that’s been sharpened over decades that it can now only chop unevenly. Its discoloured patina attests to a past of work. But the steel never fails to hold an edge and there’s an aesthetic appeal to rhythmically drawing that blade over a whetstone, the grit and the water. The sound a steel rod sings when the knife is pulled over its length. Satisfaction of unequivocal proof testing that razor edge against hairs on a bare arm. The former owner, my grandpa, was a butcher and ran a small grocery shop in a small town. His son for a time did the same.

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When I take the bread from an oven maxed to 500 degrees, dry heat rushes my face. The crust has leoparded dark brown. Gasses once trapped expanded, bloomed and cracked the crust. Its fragrance fills the house of caramelized sugars released from the wheat, alcohols, acids, work done overnight by the long fermentation of wild yeasts and bacteria. The local grains for this sourdough were milled to flour by hand and the dough shaped to a boule the day before. You could make good bread with less effort but there’s beauty in technique and depth in tradition. My Great Grandad kept a sourdough starter warm under blanket at night on geological research expeditions in the Canadian north 100 years ago. His son for a time did the same.

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Tradition is keeping alive the stories, the techniques, and the beauty that tie us to those that came before. The craft of artisanal goods. Legacy. History. A living thing.

Tell me yours.



*The blog thumbnail photo is Dr. John Donald Allan, my grandfather, 1939.

Tom StewartComment