Pre-dawn, Mid-Fall. Sebastopol, CA

The drought is ending a fourth year, so the air is mostly dry. The Fall days have been very warm, but the nights are finally very cool.  I’m into my fourth day of rising before the sun. This surprises me since I’m not a early morning person, but ‘mining’ for quiet time became a priority; both for my writing and my baking. 

 My hips are weaker than they should be given my level of activity; hiking, walking rivers while fly-fishing and the daily ups and downs required to move about my property.  My physical therapist also gets up early. For him, its became a meditative habit; ritual.  I asked him why he gets up early to meditate. He told me there’s less energy swirling around him at that hour which allows him to focus, retain the calm and continue to build his path; chipping at rocks, scrapping soil and building steps.

 I now approach my morning writing with an appreciation for the quiet energy of early morning and the ease at which I can drift into my imagination, memory and creative energy.

 Croissants are an early morning project.  When I eat a croissant, it’s morning. To get croissants to the table by 9, I start my morning coffee around 6:45.

 The magic in a croissant started a couple days earlier. For one day the yeasted dough needs to rest in the refrigerator. Early, Bob and I crossed the river through waist deep uneven rocks and swift current. Once to the other side we headed upstream; over fallen trees, steep terrain, following a bear path and defending against berry bushes and slippery rocks. We were returning to a section of water where we hooked into some might strong trout the day before.  The best ‘hole’, a channel about 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, called to us, with a mischief scent of fresh water.  We cast our caddis nymphs out, the same nymphs that attracted the large Shastina trout.  But today, no takes. A good fishing ‘hole’, with a pod of very serious trout, needs a rest; sometimes for a day, sometimes more.

 Mixing the yeast into the flour happens quickly, to avoid tough dough. But for the yeast flavor to move about the dough, a few hours gets you close to a good flavor. But overnight is really required. I’m testing for a second day of rest.

 We had a bit of better luck at our best ‘hole’ in the evening, on our way back to camp.  While we didn’t get the same really big fish, in the same spot, we did attract a couple very nice fish; but with a different nymph, different size, different color and a slight different approach.  The approach required casting into a different ‘entrance’ into the channel and with a drift that carried to the opposite side, and deeper.

 With the second day rise I’ll be looking for a slightly higher yeasty, bready flavor without sacrificing any of the rising attributes (of the yeast) that seem strongest a day earlier.  Tomorrow will bring new rewards for rising.  For today, the sun brings highlights to the redwood leaves as I look east.  The smell of rising croissant faintly distracts me and I push my chair back and prepare for a walk to my kitchen.

 Day two, I created morning buns and pain au chocolat; both are Franny’s favorites! These two held the extra day of rise, the extra yeasty envelopment, the time to align molecules.  Both were excellent and both rose well but neither were significantly different in taste from the day 1 croissants.  That’s it for this morning!