Flour, salt and an open heart

Last year in 2017 I met a lovely couple.  The man was from Albania, and the woman from New Zealand. As our conversation evolved, it turned to the subject of sourdough. My doing entirely of course. During this discourse, I discovered a beautiful phrase which apparently originates from within the Albanian culture. Flour, salt and an open heart. I immediately loved it. When making sourdough, there is of course also water and the alchemy of a wild yeast starter, but for the sake of fluency in thought, I am alluding to only three elements.

I love the simplicity of this Albanian phrase. The stripped back, the basic, the necessary.

This year I moved cities. I transported myself from a life I have known for over thirty years, and landed in unfamiliar territory. My relocation was a conscious and strategic decision related to my new business; This Table. In my plan, phase one would be the sourdough workshops, events and collaborations with Hawkes Bay and Gisborne artisans. These collaborations to date have been with wine and cheese makers, brewers, and gallery owners.

Phase two of This Table is the unique and intimate dining experience offered to travellers and locals as an alternative to dining in a restaurant or a cafe. It will be a thoughtfully curated space created within the context of a rustic cottage, which will also ( hopefully), be my home. My handcrafted sourdough will remain an accompanying feature of this experience, and I would continue to facilitate sourdough workshops and events.

I am in phase one. The sourdough collaborations and workshops.

When I arrived in Hawkes Bay I hit the floor running; networking, and introducing myself to the locals. I baked bread, gave it away, collaborated in events, held local workshops and made friends and acquaintances. I looked for paid employment and a place to live, and generally integrated myself into the surrounding community. But very quickly I became exhausted and disheartened.

Don't get me wrong, the locals were wonderful; friendly, encouraging and helpful. I was blessed by so many people. I was living in a beautiful part of New Zealand and so grateful for a space to breathe, but the cold reality of relocating set in. I had left my tribe; the people I have journeyed with for so long, the ones who know me. I was exhausted by my own expectations and now found myself overwhelmed by the challenges that came with change. I realised I needed to gain perspective.

So I took a break.

I  decided to visit dear friends in Wellington. As I walked the beach and rugged coastline of Island Bay with its wild winds and crashing waves, my inner turmoil quietened and I was able to begin to listen.

I listened on the porch of my friends house. I listened as I prepared and baked bread in their old gas oven; as I cooked; as I sat at their table. 

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I listened to my heart.

And I listened to those around me. I gave myself permission to stop and allow my soul catch up with my heart and mind.

What I heard was the beckoning of surrender; the call to lay my vision and my dreams on the altar, so to speak. I was stripped back to basics. To the essence of belief, desire and purpose.

I returned to the core elements.

The table. The bread.

The Table. A place to be included, welcomed, supported, nourished, heard, and celebrated.

The Bread. To be broken and shared.

Simple. Profound.

It’s so easy for a simple idea to become complex as we allow exterior and interior expectations to overwhelm. Our journey in life is one of discovery and purpose. We all have something to offer the world, and it doesn’t matter how big or small that is, what matters is that it’s genuine. The real deal. The gift that will bless others in some way. The story that unlocks another’s soul; bringing joy, inspiration and possibly even healing.

It’s easy to become something that we are not. It creeps up on us.

It’s harder to stay true to yourself. To what is in your hands. To the simplicity of the story you carry, that only you can impart to those who seek it.

Flour, salt and an open heart.

This is me.

Photography - Libby Moon

 

Sacred and Beautiful

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During the last three and a half years, I have fought for every piece of ground beneath my feet. The pale and  broken ground. I remember the climb; every inch, every aching mile, from the depths of what was, to a place of healing. Now I stand at the beginning of my fourth year as a single woman. I have the most precious and faithful friends anyone could ask for, and a wonderful and supportive family; all of whom have walked the distance with me. It's not easy to journey with the grieving, the torn, the limping.

 I now believe even more deeply in love, redemption, and second chances.

I have experienced deep despair,  hopelessness, intense longing, and loneliness.  There has also been incredible blessing. The beauty of friendship, the humbling generosity of friends and family, an acceptance of my flawed humanity, the embracing of forgiveness toward self and others, and a deep and incandescent gratitude for life itself.

As I drifted into a night of sleep a few weeks ago, these words came to me.

Sacred and beautiful. 

I have been musing upon what these words mean to me.

Sacred - connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving verneration. Spiritual, devotional, blessed, hallowed, revered.

Beautiful - pleasing to the senses or mind aesthetically.

In my last blog I quoted poet David Whyte; 'start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way to begin a conversation. Start with your own question; give up on other peoples questions, don't let them smother something simple'.

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We are surrounded by the sacred and beautiful everyday. A wondrous sunrise, a breathtaking sunset; the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the comforting taste of toasted sourdough with rivulets of melting butter and gold flecked honey, birdsong, the smile of a stranger, the kiss of a lover. Then there are; the tears of a friend, entering anothers pain, embracing my own, breathing in both sadness and joy, loss and longing, not knowing the answer, not understanding why, 

During times of sorrow we struggle to recognise the fullness of life, the beauty in the ordinary, the mundane, and the unbeautiful. We struggle with the unfathomable gift of suffering and isolation, we overlook the invitation to take the road less traveled, to recognise the sanctity of life, the beauty in the shadow, the light in the dark. During my journey from grief to healing I lost the ability to decipher. I lost myself and my sense of definition.

To these things I have been returning.  

I'm finding my way back to the table. To friends and family. To embracing the nurturing simplicity of sharing food and wine, and the blessed healing in friendship,  I am choosing love, trust and vunerabllity, allowing the darkness in, releasing the light to seep out. Through daily challenges, gentle breezes and wild storms, I am slowly growing in faith and hope toward a brighter future, while endevouring to create  something beautiful to share with others.

Some of the definitions have changed. Some have remained. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we can choose how it pervades our senses.

The ordinary and everyday can be made extraordinary by how we choose to see.

Photography - Libby Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing a Conversation

Recently I was listening to a conversation between journalist, author and entrepreneur Krista Tippett and poet David Whyte, and amongst many of the thoughts expressed, one statement flung itself into my soul where it lies in all its wonder, yet to be fully comprehended. ' A beautiful question, brings a beautiful answer'.

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David Whyte writes in his poem Start Close In ….Start close in, don't take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don't want to take.

There are things we don't want to hear; especially if they are personal. Yet I find as I continue my journey, as painful as it's been at times, I am learning to embrace the difficult truths about myself, while acknowledging my strengths and practicing self compassion. Knowledge and acceptance, leads to a conversation, to healing, renewed vision, and an ability to wisely create.

David Whyte’s poem continues, ‘Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way to begin a conversation. Start with your own question, give up on other people's questions, don't let them smother something simple’.

So I'm beginning a conversation with myself; I'm starting with the ground I know, the pale ground beneath my feet. Embracing a beautiful question.

There has been an ever changing and shifting surface beneath my feet during the last few years; a season in which I’ve been searching for my Turangawaewae, a place to be; a landscape that is mine.

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As the beautiful Irish blessing puts it, the ground has gently risen to meet me. Gradually, I have felt the steadying of my feet and the restoring of rhythm to my days. As the ground beneath me remains in its pale form, still questioning and tentative, I am treading it lightly.

I am searching for that beautiful question, the one which will bring a beautiful answer. Beginning the conversation only I can begin. Asking the questions of myself, only I can ask. Attuning my ear to the sound, allowing my senses to lead me, and wisdom to guide me.

I’m starting close in, taking the step I don't want to take. And in this, I am finding my place to stand. A place to inhabit. A space to share with others.

Photography - Libby Moon

A Journey Begins

This blog and website has been two years in the making. During this time I've been dreaming, researching, cooking, learning, and pursuing a lifestyle which will carry me into my future.

The preparation and planning for this venture has been both challenging and rewarding. As I have navigated an unfamiliar landscape in my life, there have been countless times I have doubted my resolve and my dream. This journey has meant many hours spent in the kitchen experimenting with recipes, exploring the nuances of sourdough bread making, styling and photographing my food, and learning to be innovative with a limited range of equipment.

All the while, journeying from heartbreak and loss to healing and restoration.

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I was born with an innate desire to create atmosphere, beauty and inclusiveness around food. As a young girl my favourite books were a collection of cookbooks my mother had ordered through Readers Digest. These cookbooks showcased four regions; including France, Italy, Scandinavia, and America. I read them countless times, gazed with wonder at the photographs, and studied the recipes. To me they represented the passion, vibrancy and meaning of life.

Many years later my desire to cook and share my food remains as strong as ever. My past culinary experiences have now culminated in redefining what food really means to me, and how I can translate my love for it into inclusiveness and community.

My journey has always bought me back to the table. To this table. A place where we gather to celebrate, share, and love. A place imbued with meaning and significance.

A space created to share, inspire, heal and satisfy.

I'm so excited to be able to share this journey with you. Although I have walked many paths, some wonderful, some challenging, they have all led me to this place and this time.

I invite you to enjoy this journey with me, as I follow my passion for food and awaken yours.

 

 

Kaftan Dress designed by TCD

Photography - Liz March