Parcels Against The Pandemic

This was going to be the welcome to the new layout for my baking journal, but my previous post usurped that honor. Still, it’s worth mentioning that I worked with a good friend who is a Website designer on this new version because the previous one was hell to update and had no method for adding posts on the fly. I swapped home cooked meals for coding and I now have a format that better reflects the culinary journey I’m trying to document here. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more frequently, and from different locations when it’s finally safe for us to venture out into the world again. You’ll have to let me know what you think! Now, on to the actual post post!

Over the last four months we’ve been doing the polar opposite of venturing out into the world. Michele and I went on lock-down here in New York about halfway through March doing a pretty good job of sheltering in place. We mask up whenever we take our walks or have unavoidable shopping to do. Social distancing has become a game of strategic maneuvers and risk assessments. Sadly, Michele’s father passed away just before we sheltered-in-place in March and her step-mother passed away on Mother’s Day, so we’ve been dealing with an extra burden of grief and sadness, without the ability to gather with family and mourn the loss. (Neither death was COVID-related.) I enjoyed their company and will greatly miss gregarious storytelling and generosity.

My coping mechanism for the heaviness of heart and outside chaos has been, as always, baking. Pursuing this art/craft now answers the two questions I keep asking myself and others during this extraordinarily stressful time: what are you doing to take care of yourself and how are you making someone else’s life a little easier? As I mentioned previously, early-on in lock-down, I began secretly sharing baked goods with the neighbors who share our floor. I left them bags and notes about the treats at their doorsteps, with encouragement to hopefully help them know that they were not alone outside of their family units. This has turned into an almost weekly occurrence, with me doing my best to never repeat the treat. Galettes, cakes, scones, ice cream, cinnamon-raisin bread, cookies, palmiers, and more have all ended up at their doors.

Baking and shipping to friends and family around the country didn’t stop, either. I think I’ve helped keep the USPS in business over the last few months. All of the parcels have been surprise arrivals and I know that a few of my friends who are out of work or self-employed appreciate receiving something sweet in the post. Just as important, though, is the feeling of connection I get when I drop off the boxes, track them, and see that they’ve arrived. Baking, shipping, and sharing (and, yes, even packing the boxes) is definitely a form of therapy, of self-care and well-being, for me. Until such time as we’re able to safely gather with friends and family, this is my refuge and my weapon against despair, hatred, and cruelty. I will always share that.

Unexpectedly, I received some lovely gifts from folks as well! I don’t give to get but there is still a lot of the the little kid in me that loves going the mailbox and finding something fun addressed to me! (For that reason, I’m seriously considering resuming my correspondence.) Some gifts were wonderfully practical, and deeply appreciated. Others were more whimsical and sent for pure enjoyment. I appreciate all of them!

These lines of communication to and from others around the country have transcended the pandemic and I will be forever grateful.

Currently listening to: Al Jarreau – Fly and Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Grace+Vogelzang

    I love the new website. Gorgeous! And those cranberry scones look incredible. You are my baking guru.

    1. Carlton Baker II

      Thanks, Grace! I’ve been making that scone recipe for almost three decades and only just it to a place that I’m happy with! Can’t wait until I’m able to share them with you!

  2. Mary

    I’ve loved reading your writing for over 40 years…still do. And devouring your baking, well…!! Send me recipes, and I’ll expand your outreach to your hometown. XO

    1. Carlton Baker II

      I am cogitating on that very idea, Mary! I’m glad you still like reading what I throw down onto the “page” and sharing my baking with you is always a treat for me!

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