practice: lent in pictures day 24
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Since I learned to make this bread last April, I’ve baked it I don’t know how many times. I started keeping track of the dates on the recipe along with my notes, but that got crowded after seven occasions.
This bread is one of the only things I really practice. In fact, I rarely use “practice” as a verb anymore. In high school, I practiced piano, practiced flute, practiced soccer. I sat down at the piano and turned on the metronome and rehearsed the same measure twenty times until it sounded smoother. I played audition pieces on my flute backwards, measure by measure, until I had them memorized and knew the end as well as I knew the beginning. For hours every afternoon during soccer season, I ran ladders and did star jumps and tried to figure out how to stop the ball on a dime by stopping it, over and over and over.
Now “practice” sits safely in the realm of noun-hood. The practice of discipleship. The practice of rest. The practice of writing. It’s an ideal rhythm, a hoped-for habit. But I don’t actually practice those things the way I practiced an instrument or a sport. It’s easy to keep those things in the abstract when practice stays a noun and doesn’t become a verb.
But I do practice this bread. Have I made forty loaves? Fifty? I keep trying, keep practicing that kneading technique. I see if I can add less flour this time and still manage to have it stay together and turn smooth. I try to time the rise better, to catch it before it collapses. It’s still rough. If my breadmaking were a piano student, you’d tolerate it but only because it’s your own kid. But I’m getting better.
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