Headlong into the wind, I have my old red jacket zipped up to my chin and my scarf wound high and tight to save my ears from the stinging rain. I can’t turn my head. I am alone on the dark and quiet streets dotted with the orange glow of streetlamps. Few are awake before the crack of dawn here. Striding forward, tired but defiant, my converse with their doughy soles slip and slide through the puddles. Thirty minutes pass before rushing in, the soft tinkle of the doorbell and a heady warm rush of air welcomes me. I’m early. The comforting smell of fresh bread fills my nostrils and the dry air filled with flour catches my throat.
As usual, the drone sound of the radio plays on quietly and I recieve a few timely grunts from the bakers. They are tired. And it’s not a surprise, they’ve been working through the night. I go through the motions, flitting between tasks, always and forever incapable of completing one thing before starting the next. Reprimanded for forgetting the lights. Why do I always forget the lights? With steamy windows and the sun rising, I carefully stack buttery croissants, pain au chocolate and Danish pastries. Never too neatly but always at the front. I label the shelves whilst the loaves and array of sourdough breads cool on the tall rack. There’s white sourdough, spelt sourdough, 30% rye or 50% rye sourdough. There’s also a potato and rosemary bread, it smells divine. And a whole array of others to choose from. Thing is you can’t put them on the shelves too early, you’ll ruin the crust made through so much love, attention and skill.
Pottering around, arranging the gooey chocolate brownie, slicing the bake well tart and wiping up any stickiness left in my wake after the gluey together the giant giant jammy dodgers, I’m lost in my thoughts. Occasionally though, our quiet, harmonious morning is interrupted by a rouge, early passerby. Politely but quietly irritated, I serve them in a hushed manner. Until we are back to our haven with the click of the door. We dance around each other in the tiny space, communicating in silence. I’m getting hungry and impatient for my breakfast of miniature spelt sourdough baguettes made up from the offcuts. I know their in the oven. Keith spoils me but he’d better hurry up, the butter is waiting. Which means it’s time for strong black coffee all round. We slowly prepare to start to welcome customers by gently talking amongst ourselves. We pull each other out of the daze and the cheeky banter starts to flow. I already miss the quiet comfort of the morning once the first joke is cracked. Suddenly, you can sense that the rest of the city is awake and starting thier day.