A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bread Euphoria

When I was a kid, we used to summer sometimes in Harwichport, on Cape Cod. Back in the day, that felt like going to another country. Driving home on the back roads--this was before the Pike was built--we'd usually stop at a little roadside stand that offered eggs for sale. (My grandmother used to keep chickens, and my mother and aunts were still fussy about eggs.) You picked out a dozen and left your change in the box, honor system. We always referred to our vacations as "going to the Cape--for eggs!"

Neighbor Maggie and I went riding out to the hills yesterday--for bread. The purported reason for the excursion was to check out a particular bakery Maggie liked....speak with the baker to see if they would cut her a deal on a volume of loaves for her upcoming house concerts.

Bread Euphoria is one of those shops you have to know is there. I've passed the spot countless times on my way up to Ashfield, without ever noticing the place. The building is set back from the road, most of it taken up by Andrew Quient pottery. The bakery is around to the side, flagged by a very modest sign.

The staff was friendly and helpful, but it quickly became obvious that there would be no Euphoric bread at the concerts. Organic, delicious, beautiful loaves like theirs have to be fresh to be fantastic, and the place is just too remote from us for a quick, last-minute pickup. The baker kindly offered the names of some artisanal bakers closer to downtown Springfield. We all know one another, she said. We're just one big group.

Of course, we couldn't go all that way without peeking at the pottery. Andrew Quient's wares are fancy, with price tags to match. Elaborate designs on harmonious forms, many of the pieces quite large. Too large and heavy for my taste, with textured, underglazed surfaces which render them pretty much useless for serving food. If I pay $450 for a something that looks like a salad bowl, I want to be able to put salad in it.

After the pottery shop and the bakery, we headed back to Northampton for lunch at Bela, a restaurant Maggie had never visited. The indulgent waitress brought glass after glass of iced tea, water, and ice, along with piles of napkins, and never batted an eyelash as Maggie sloshed and stirred, creating about a gallon of watery brew. Something about having lived down South, apparently, although I've lived down South myself and never acquired a taste for cold, weak tea by the tankerful.

We killed the remainder of the time we'd allotted "for bread" in the Broadside Bookshop. I read about gravity hills in New England, while Maggie actually purchased books. Then it was back home to the Armoury-Quadrangle neighborhood, and back to work for me. I look forward to going way the hell to Haydenville "for bread" anytime.

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Anonymous Maggie said...

Actually Southerners like their tea syrupy with sugar and strong. I'm trying to break my addiction by going for quantity instead of quality. As you noticed by the gallons I drink, my technique isn't exactly working but, boy, am I hydrated---and awake.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous ANDREW QUIENT said...

Dear Ms. Corbett,
Having read your comments on my work, I must comment in return.
Before developing a negative opinion and publishing unfavorable comments, you might take the trouble to learn something about the work, i.e., what it is about,
and why it costs what it does. Opinions have no value unless they are based on knowledge.
My clientele are well-informed on pottery; unlike yourself, they
have taken the trouble to educate
themselves before drawing conclusions.
Andrew Quient
Andrew Quient Pottery

10:13 PM  
Blogger Cicily Corbett said...

mr. quient--

thank you for your interest in my blog.

please re-read my post more carefully. i do not have a negative opinion of your pottery. i believe i characterized it as elaborate in design and harmonious in form. are those pejoratives? i said it was fancy, with price tags to match; i.e., fairly priced for what it is.

i have been collecting ceramics for forty years. i would say i have approximately $40,000 worth of signed works, from studios such as madoura in vallauris, which executes picasso's designs, and edward boehm, commissioned to reproduce pieces from the tomb of tutankhamen. please believe me when i say i inform myself rather well before shelling out for those.

that said, i think i am entitled to a personal taste for functionality in items which appear to have some function. antique chinese vases in my home get pressed into service to hold flowers. a madoura cup holds toothbrushes. i would not pay $750 for a bowl a foot and a half wide with a carved weave pattern on the inside, however attractive, because i would be loath to pile cookies in it. too heavy, and too much of an aggravation to clean.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$ 40,000 Worth of signed work in your
Armory Srteet home??????????????

Do you want to purchase an ALARM
from our company?

We hope you have a good home owners

We have several thousand antique
clocks and would never disclose our
address. Have you notified your agent as many Insurance companies
want you to list all of your valuables. We have a video of all of our valuables. It in in our vault at our bank. We want you to
realize that it is most important to have a floater on your policy.
Your Insurance agent will help you
with your profile and we feel it is
most important to have all valuables listed. It is about $56
per year on our home owners policy.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Cicily Corbett said...

hello anonymous--

thank you for your interest in my blog.

first of all, i don't live on armory street. second of all, i never said that these valuables were left uninsured in my home. and finally, i have an excellent homeowner's policy in place already. i'm old but i'm not stupid.

4:32 PM  

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