My Sourdough Journey: Chapter Seventeen – Telltale Signs. . .

. . . a beautiful autumn leaf pasted to the window pane! Pretty though it was, it was a sure sign that the approach of winter was imminent.

A beautiful autumn leaf in Hay-on-Wye: the approach of winter was imminent

A beautiful autumn leaf in Hay-on-Wye: the approach of winter was imminent

In my mind, up until the appearance of that leaf, I had been delaying acknowledgment of the inevitable because temperatures were still mild for the time of year.

On several occasions at the bakery, Alex had said that the previous winter was virtually non-existent: no frosts, no deep snows, nothing. Deep down, I was hoping that this year would be a repeat of the same. But somehow, that pink leaf, sprawled smack-dab onto the window pane was a bit like a gentle slap in the face warning me to get ready.

Temperatures continued to be mild, though, over the next few weeks, and walking to the bakery at 3:15 in the mornings was still pleasant. If anything, drops in the temperature were more apparent during mid morning after I had completed my shift and was returning to the house where I was staying.

I was only forcibly made to take heed when the floor in the bakery started to feel like blocks of ice a few hours into my shifts and when the baking trays and tins had to be put into the oven for a few seconds to warm them up before use and when touching them before they went into the oven literally numbed my hands.

The doughs also had to be coaxed to rise and their customary resting place was now in front of the oven, sometimes with bowls of boiling water put under the ones that were jacketed in plastic on the metal racks. It was the opposite at times during the summer when they had to be placed near the open back door to stop them from rising too quickly and overproofing. Even if I recognised most temperatures as being too cold and couldn’t appreciate the slight differences, the doughs could!

My first major preparation was to purchase a lovely, purple coat from Golesworthy’s in Hay Town Centre. I was happy that I got it because it matched a swatch in my House of Colours chart perfectly, and I was even happier because the lovely man in the shop gave me a discount; and the coat really was wind and water proof as I proved to my delight not long after I bought it.

The season was indeed changing. It wasn’t long before it started to get darker much earlier: by 4:30 p.m., one look through the window made me want to curl up snugly by the heater and stay in for the evening. At the bakery, plans were afoot to bake stollens and other decadent Christmas goodies. Hay started getting ready for its weekend Winter Festival and Christmas. And I, myself, entered another season of change as my stint at the bakery gradually drew to a close and my mind began turning to thoughts of where the next step in my sourdough journey would take me.

Now, along with savouring the delights and privileges of living in Hay-on-Wye, working at the bakery, and the tedious process of applying for jobs to get myself on another footing for the new year, I began preparing my mind for another inevitable. . .that of saying goodbye to Hay-on-Wye and moving on.

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