Friday, August 13, 2010

The Flour Bin

Going up as a child we were quite poor. Partially because my father owned his own saw mill. He had a partner that would help him haul logs from the woods and then saw them into lumber. Winters were especially hard because it was difficult haul logs from the woods because of the snow. Lumber sales were also down, because people didn’t do much building in the winter.
Being poor with seven children, my mom made a lot of bread. She had a flour bin that would hold at least a hundred pound sack of flour. As a child, I loved watching her make bread. She would get out a very large bread bowl. She would dip her large flour sifter into the bin several times in order to fill the large bowl with flour. She would then add warm water mixed with yeast, salt, sugar and other things. She would mix and kneed, wait for it to raise the kneed it again. Then she would repeat the process a couple times. During this weekly ritual she would make a dozen or so loaves of bread. Nothing was better than butter and honey on homemade bread, right out of the oven.
My father had been sick for some time and couldn’t work much, so there wasn’t much money. On my oldest brother 15th birthday my father passed away, leaving my mother with no money and seven children to feed.
After my father’s death, I remember watching my mother make bread as usual. I remember her opening the flower bin and it being nearly empty. I remember thinking there was hardly enough flour to fill the large sifter let alone make bread. But somehow she managed to scrape out enough flour to make her usual dozen or so loaves of bread for the week.
I wasn’t home at the time, but the week she baked another dozen loaves of bread again. I remember looking in the flower bin, when no one was looking thinking that someone must have bought her flour. But it was as empty as before.
The next week, I made extra effort to be home when she made bread. Again there was hardly any flour in the bin. I knew that there was not going to be enough flour, but somehow she managed to make her normal dozen or so loaves of bread. I remember wondering how she did it.
I think she made a couple more batches of bread, before going to the store and buying flour. I hadn’t thought much about the experience, until a couple years ago. We were at a family reunion and were telling stories from our childhood. My mother told the story that after my father had died; the flour bin didn’t go empty, until social security checks started coming in.

14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

(Old Testament | 1 Kings 17:14)