Nine months away is a long time and while there was much that was enjoyed on-the-road, some things were distinctly missing.
But it’s not simply about having it again/catching up, the time needs to be right… so, waiting a few days as I decompressed, as the tension was walked out, as conversation regained normality, has been an important feature of my process of returning… and today, I was ready.
Walked into the centre of Chagford, which for those who don’t know, is only a few hundred yards, but it took an age, as people who haven’t seen me yet this year, stopped their Saturday morning shopping, their busying about, their talks of local weather and heartilly welcomed me back… into the tribe. Gasping at the epic story I carry with me (visible in my drawn features) and keen to hear all the mammoth madness. “How heavy?”, “You’ve been where?”, “Skaters and Kung Fu you say?” …This repetition does get a bit wearing to Carol, who was only accompanying so she could buy milk. For me however, it’s important to tell, in order that I have a bridge between the two worlds, or else I’ll be lost from this one, when I return to the Ice.
And the circuit takes me to the temples of my desire… the butchers, where Andy knows what I want and won’t take money for it. Then the bakers, where I feel the loaf – still warm from the morning oven, it’s press; even beneath my fingers. And the dairy – locally produced, slightly salted butter.
Clutching my prizes I head home, waving but no longer stopping.
Flame under frying pan… get it hot first, coffee pot on the hob, slice and butter the bread, by which time the heavy pan is hot and ready… carefully lay the rashers of smoked back, overlapping just a little, so that it’s the rind and fat that is directly against the heat (that way the bacon cooks in its own juices).
Rashers not rushed
Take a moment for a long awaited special treat – the buttered crust of the granary loaf, eaten while watching the rashers begin to sizzle.
The milk is heating in its pan, flame low underneath, so as not to burn. Starting to rise.
Coffee is percolating up, wisps of steam emerge, laden with aroma, combining with the smell of the bacon cooking.
I remember the process, am practised in the art… the important thing is that all comes together at once.
And it does.
Turn rashers once… don’t fuss.
Smell the bacon.
Coffee burbles… it’s ready when the sound changes… pour into favourite cup (regardless that the handle was long ago broken off), then hot milk to an inch below the rim, froth the remainder and add so that the colour is white in the middle, dark around the edges.
Bacon is done, not overdone… cut off rind and place on the buttered doorsteps, so that the magic of combining can take place as the butter melts into the bread.
Nestling in fresh bread
Sit and have immediately.
There is silence, as Carol and David and I enjoy.
While other interested parties look on.