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.
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.
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