Friday, November 19, 2010

At The Bakery

At The Bakery

Our neighbourhood bakery has been around since The Songwriter was a little boy.  As is his custom, he always shows up bright and early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, for his first holiday order of bright red Santa cookies. He will continue to stop in every few days until the New Year dawns and the Santa cookie cutter is stored away till the next November.  He is not alone in his devotion to this local bakery.  Stop in anytime of the day and you are sure to see a crowd gathered there, staring hungrily into the long glass cases, lost in the delicious difficulty of choosing between cream horns and chocolate eclairs, red velvet cakes and sweet potato pies.  It’s all here and it’s all incredible.  People drive many miles to visit this place but it’s just a short, pleasant walk from my front door, sitting on the hill, just past the Little League park where a flock of Sugar Maples glow in the sunshine.

Around four o’clock last Monday afternoon, during a rain storm, a runaway car jumped the curb, flew up over the hill and crashed straight through the front entrance of the bakery, scattering brick, mortar and glass, and coming to rest beside the holiday cupcakes and the gingerbread men.  Any other day, this would have been an unspeakable tragedy, for any other day the bakery would have been packed with children on their way home from school, lined up for a treat before heading home.  But it was Monday, and the bakery is closed on Mondays.  No one, not even the unfortunate fellow behind the wheel of the car, had so much as a scratch.  One more mystery to be grateful for in this strange and wonderful life.  

The randomness of events is often a hard thing to swallow.  So many what ifs and if onlys.  On that awful September 11th, many years ago - though it seems only yesterday - I remember thinking a lot about those who were supposed to be in those dreadful towers, or on those horrid planes, but for one reason or another, were not.  How would you ever make sense of that one?  Then there was my friend who was hit by a taxi on the very first hour of her very first visit to London.  Like so many Americans are prone to do, she looked the wrong way before stepping into the street.  The timing had to be perfect for her to be hit, and it obviously was.  She spent a week in a London hospital, then flew home to bedrest.  Not exactly the trip she had planned.  You hear of people who have won the lottery several times over.  I know someone who’s been struck by lightning three times.  Three times! Frankly, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that no matter how carefully we plan our lives, so much is simply out of our control.  
Not too long after that dark September of 2001, I was in a local restaurant waiting for a table when a rather well-known designer sat down beside me.  Although we had both served on a design panel or two in the past, we didn’t know each other well, so our conversation was fairly trivial.  At some point I happened to mention that The Songwriter and I would soon be heading off on one of our trips to Scotland.  She looked appalled and informed me that she didn’t intend to travel outside the country until “all this terrorism business is over”.  Through the ensuing years I’ve often wondered if she is still waiting at home, her faded travel brochures gathering dust as she keeps an eye glued to the news.  No, we can never predict what’s coming round the corner.  Our lives intersect in the strangest of ways.  Sometimes we step off the curb and the taxi swerves to miss us.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes the car runs headlong into the bakery on a rainy afternoon, and no one is there. 

 I have found that there exists a soft, shady spot smack in the middle of Mystery and Faith and that’s where I choose to spend most of my days.  Singer Iris Dement says it best when she sings, 
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly.
But I choose to let the mystery be.”

And sometimes, this poem by Robert Bly makes perfect sense to me.

People Like Us 

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can't remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and
Who love God but can't remember where

He was when they went to sleep. It's 
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time

To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he's lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,

You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul
And greatness has a defender, and even in death
     you're safe.

by Robert Bly


  1. Dear Pamela, How powerfully this posting resonates with me. I often feel that there is such a fine line between joy and despair and how glad I am to not know what awaits around the next corner of life.
    Sometimes one's faith is sorely tested but at others one clings to this as a safe haven in a stormy sea. You really have captured the essence of this today. Perfect!!

  2. What a lovely post. And yes, let the mystery be, and remember that all is truly well.

  3. This is beautiful, Pamela. Mystery of faith. Our whole family was supposed to be on a flight to Denver. It crashed. Everyone killed in an instant. We had changed the flight. It wasn't our time. It was my time when an elderly driver t-boned me at an intersection. So goes life. I often say that I am always amazed when I am reminded at times that I am really not in charge. ha!

    Now, I'm tempted to go to our bakery thinking about all those cookies your songwriter brings faithfully home each year.

  4. Oh my...thank heavens (literally) no one was in the bakey that day. The 'what if's' of life are such a mystery...we had one with a tragic ending in our family and we still to this day, four years later, think about those two little words that carry the hearts of many on their shoulders.

    This was such a deep and meaningful post...
    xo J~

  5. Bly and Dement. Of My! What wonders!!! Thank You for such an inspiring post.

  6. Your words speak volumes about mystery and faith. Thank you for this excellent post.

  7. Thanks for a lovely post that should be read by all!

  8. Faith and Hope - the miracle workers!

  9. Last night I saw this post on my feeder but could not access it. Fate?
    Years ago while taking the train to Sweden from Germany, we were on the exact train that went over the bridge at Eschede with the loss of over 399 lives, 24hrs before the accident. The Prof said at the time "if I didn't know these trains cant have square wheels, I would swear it had one. I can hear it"
    It is odd to contemplate the fact that we had meant to travel a day later but had changed our schedule.On the way back, days later, a lady sat at our table in the dining car and told us she went back to get her umbrella and missed the doomed train. Coincidence> I think not. I see the hand of God all too clearly.

    Life is fragile at the best of times so it is best to make the best of it while we can.

  10. As usual, you have a powerful impact one me. You are so right on- on all your thoughts. What a tragedy and miracle that occured with the car plummeting into the bakery. It does beg the questions, why and what if...
    We all take it for granted that life will always continue on for us, but it sure can be taken away in a moment...

  11. I found your blog through Bruce; I was beneath the WTC just after 9am on 9/10/01. As I came above ground, I had the strangest feeling... that this was the last time I would see this place, and the little plaza across the street, with coffee carts etc lining the perimeter. Such a clear feeling, I wondered if I was going to die or something. I had the same feeling on the way home, so I stopped and bought a red beret I saw in a shop window on the concourse. I worked from home the next day, just across the Hudson, facing Manhattan. It was indeed the last time I saw that plaza, and the WTC. Life is strange & powerful. Your blog is lovely; I have seen your name before and never realized that Edward is a dog, though the most handsome one at that! Cheers~

  12. Great Bly poem, and amazing bakery luck. I agree with you on the mystery... and with Iris, let it be. Hope they are up and running again soon so that songman can eat his Christmas cookies!

  13. true, true and true! wonderful post and I love the picture of you and Edward walking along the leaf covered path :)

  14. Hi Pamela...I feel so much after reading your words. I have often thought about fate, why things happen the way they do. My father was supposed to be on the Lockerbie flight, but due to a bad cold coming on a colleague took his place at the last minute. Sometimes the "what ifs" can keep you up at night. Thank goodness no one was in that bakery. I'm so very glad to hear it. This was a beautiful and very thought provoking piece. I loved the Bly poem as well!


  15. What a fasinating post, Pamela. I feel that there is no point sitting at home until ' all this terrorism business is over' !!!!
    When I worked in London, we all had to be aware of Irish terrorists....a bomb went off in a restaurant under my workplace. That all eventually stopped and now has been replaced with more. This will always happen and we must carry on with our lives.
    How fortunate that the bakery was closed....there could have been such a disaster.
    Have a lovely weekend Pamela. XXXX

  16. We live such fragile lives, don't we?
    Loved your description of the bakery (before the crash)...oh, but it was fun, too, to have you describe the car as coming to a rest near the cupcakes :)

  17. Interesting read Pamela. "Carpe Diem" say I - and don;t think too much about the future - it will not be as you expect it to be anyway.

  18. What a lovely well written post! I used to travel to NY frequently and was devestated by the events of 9/11.

    I was in California on this terrible day and returned to NY the day the flying restrictions were lifted. I'll never forget the complete silence on the plane. The gentleman sitting next to me asked me if I was afraid...I told him that I did feel a little afraid. He looked at me and said you can't be afraid of must be afraid of not living.

    I've never forgotten that man or his amazing message.

    Thank you for your visit!


  19. Your post rings so true! I have thought often about random tragedy or the missing the same by a hair...
    September 11 is forever ingrained in my memories. My husband was abroad and was expected back to New York that afternoon. Needless to say He did not come home for a fortnight, missing my 40st birthday.
    It was the last day before our little daughter started preschool and I planned that faithful morning to go the World Trade Center to by tickets for a Broadway show.
    But having also a baby in tow, we were off to a late start....I never reached the city....

    Oh the lucky circumstances, I am so glad no one was hurt at that bakery! All else can be fixed. We humans are so fragile....

    Thank you for a lovely post. It makes me to be grateful over and over again.

  20. Hi Pamela, I agree so much with everything you said here. It amazes me at times and you sit and wonder the whys and wherefores....Check out on Youtube...The ukettes do Iris’s song “let the Mystery Be”...i love her.

  21. Beautiful Pamela.....It would be so much better for all of us if we could learn early that life is beyond our control on so many levels....xv

  22. Incredibly moved by this post, Pamela. It must just be how pertinent it is to me right now.
    Thank you. C x

  23. Pamela,
    This post truly resonates with me. Thanks goodness we have no idea what the future or fate brings otherwise I think it would be truly impossible to find joy and live a full life.

  24. None of us is 'in control'; "che sarà, sarà" to borrow a line from Doris! Such a shame for the bakery and a blessing for the customers and staff.

  25. ...And having a brother that worked in wall street and JUST left a meeting in the trade center that morning...I believe in angels on our shoulders, and a time and a place for everything.

    And we can change neither.

    Beautiful always

  26. pamela

    this post resonates deeply with me. having been involved in the car accident that took marija's life of holding court blog, i still question the 'what if's' and the 'why's'
    we all know we will be called someday but it is those split second decisions that can end or save your life can be numbing and humbling.
    wonderful post

  27. I love this Robert Bly poem Pamela! In fact I love the entire post:) One can be paralyzed if one was always waiting for what may not happen. One must decide to live with optimism...

  28. Thank you Pamela for this post.
    As you might already know, I have an irrational fear of flying. One day I was talking to my cousin, who travels quite a bit for work. I asked her is she was ever afraid of flying. She said that she has no control over when she dies. When it's her time then it will be her time. If she is meant to die on a plane, then she will. This is how I try to live my life. I am grateful for each day that I am given.

  29. A lovely post and a poem that has treasure islands in it.

  30. To Pamela and Edward, I am so inspired by your posts. They make my day soar with inspiration and the
    beautiful mystery behind each stone unturned wraps me in merry wonderment for the magical to come.
    PS. Luci sends her Beardy white light and love to dearest Edward.


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