I had a dream last summer about the old bakery location in Eau Claire on Barstow Street (2006-2009). In my dream, the bakery stayed static in time as the completed bakery, whereas in reality that space currently houses a music shop. Anyway, I dreamed that I flung open the front door excitedly and started pulling dust covers off of the bakery cases, mixers, tables. What made this dream extra memorable was that all of my people, former bakery staff, were in my dream too. They were once again helping out the bakery and making a piece of it for themselves. When I woke up, this dream felt particularly poignant and regretful - often we never know when we are making significant stories in our lives until after the moment passes. At any rate, after a few days, I was able to shake off that dream full of longing and bittersweet memories. And returned to "Live in the moment" - I have made the best of my non-baking years gaining new business acumen; but always felt a tiny ache, a refrain for the years lost to the passage of Time. So, I shared this dream's story with a few good friends, and then filed it away under "nostalgia." It would never be possible again, I told myself firmly. Especially after a decade gone.
In the four weeks since I quit my day job, truly remarkable things have happened. This all started as an idea to provide a meager financial stopgap for myself between my final semesters when I asked myself the question; "what if I did a little baking at the Farmer's Market?" has gained momentum, like a proverbial snowball, and almost taken on a life of its own. Yesterday, I just visited Eau Claire as a businesswoman for the first time in ten years, and the reception I was given was absolutely beautiful. And it looks like I will have a retail home for my bakery products back in the original town where it all began for me. I will ship the good frozen, fully packaged for retail, and folks can just buy them and pop an all-butter croissant in their oven for 10 minutes and make the magic happen right in their own kitchen. I also am working with a local Madison cafe that will also be retailing my bakery items at their store. I'm so honored and excited to partner with these two entities, and will announce their names as soon as it is official.
I am completely inspired by my experience yesterday. The warmth and affection made it clear that the loss of the bakery was keenly felt by more than just myself. And that the return of the bakery means just as much. The first person I spoke with, letting them know I was there to visit with someone to discuss wholesale, did a double take and then grabbed my hand and said "it's been, like, ten years!" That night, when dining at the "Rogue Dairy Queen" (ask me sometime, great story) I had one kindly gentleman who just kept patting me on the back, like he was checking to make sure I was real. And this morning , another person who shared with me the deeply moving story of a family member's last days and their delight in getting fresh pastries. I cried today, hearing that story. And I know enough now to see that the bakery wasn't just my thing, or all about me either. The baked goods themselves were significant to other people on the merit of the baked good itself. All I'm doing is providing initial hand that brings the bakery into existence - all the love, and all the meaning comes from everyone else and that new understanding is what brought me to tears. I realized that I'm just safeguarding the bakery for future hands who will take it and make it their own.
Most of the time, a dream is just a dream. But it feels like particular dream is coming true because it's for all of us to get to make, bake, or enjoy. I'm honored to have another opportunity to breathe something unique back into existence. Sometimes the old is new again.