5AM this morning, and Yahoo Weather told me and my cup of coffee that it was -2 outside. I didn't look at the windchill. On the trek to work, I was startled Again by the 6AM Smoking Guy, who stands on his porch at the edge of Clark street, and I never see him until he moves, or until I am right next to him. At least this morning I didn't jump and scream like I have before. The coal trucks are rarely out at 6AM on Saturdays, and almost nobody else was out this morning either, so the soundtrack of my morning walk was my own shuffling footsteps and the intermittent kicking on of furnaces up and down the street.
Dawn snuck up to the window in my kitchen while I was trying to beat 4 pounds of cold butter into submission with my Hobart mixer. By the time the first of the chocolate chip cookies were out of the oven the courtyard was filled with cold, directionless morning light. By the time I got around to my first cigarette break I could even see the sun hanging out in the sky over Sabraton.
Sometimes people think that I work in a warm place. They see the Oven and imagine the Bakery to be warm. In the Summer, yes, it gets up to 90 in the kitchen sometimes even with the AC on. But Winter is a different story. The basement is not particularly airtight (whatever lives down there likes to dig the insulation out from around the old windows). There is an exhaust fan above the oven (to keep us from asphyxiating on CO2 I think) which has to run when we're firing the thing up (which we do almost constantly all morning). This creates a draft, cold air from the basement gets sucked up through my kitchen and out over the oven. It was 60 in the hallway where the thermostat is, but I'm betting it was a little cooler in my drafty room. I know it was below 32 in the basement, because the line from the water filter to the coffee station has been frozen for two days. The line from the water filter to my mixing station is slightly bigger, so it hasn't frozen (yet). By noon today water coming out of my tap was a whopping 48 degrees.
My hands are cold all day long. I was thinking about ordering some kind of neoprene gloves, like for deep sea divers, so I have some kind of protection from the chill, but gloves make it difficult to handle the dough - so I just suck it up and wash dishes to get my hands warm. :) And if anybody needs a hand model for a Crocodile Skin photo shoot, I'm your woman. Another week of this and I will be wearing plastic gloves no matter what because the skin of my hands it brittle and very close to cracking completely off.
Somebody out front said that my Honey Almond Creamcheese scones were awesome. Yay! It made me smile. The secret is a tablespoon of ricotta in with the cream cheese... Don't tell anyone, OK?
The day kicked into high gear when my boss changed the radio station from the coma inducing indie folk rock station she put on at 5 AM (I don't think she enjoys being jarred awake by noisy music in the morning) to the Brian Setzer radio station (I love PANDORA!). Jump, Jive, and Wail Baby! I like to dance around while I'm working on the mix. It is good exercise and makes that hour fly by. And Big Band Punk Surfer Swinging Rock doesn't get lost in the roar of the giant Kemper Mixer either, like the Sensitive Ponytail Boys Accoustic Guitar Brigade does. And dancing around keeps me warm too. :)
Toward the end of the day when Xtine and I were finishing up our reshape, Don, our old boss, came in. He used to own the bakery way back in the beginning (with his son) and he still owns the building. So he hung out for a few minutes standing obliviously right in our way, and we talked about the weather. He said it was 40 below today in Vermont where his mother lives. Xtine said it was 14 below in Arthurdale this morning. I said it was -2 in town this morning and could you please move out of the way so I can get this bread back on it's trolley? He was there to fix the pipes to the coffee station and also the insulation downstairs. But before he went into the basement he had to tell me a little story. I knew the story before he started, I have heard it at least twice before if not half a dozen times. One winter, when he was a boy in Vermont, it was at least 32 below zero, and his dad took them out onto the porch and flung a pan of hot water up in the air and it froze before it hit the ground. He wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes. He reminded me of my Dad in that moment, the way he was so enthusiasticly telling me a story that I had heard before. Then he went to the basement to do some work, and I went home.