She’s my very own earth oven built with my very own hands (and a little help from some awesome friends). She is salt-of-the-earth beautiful. Her goal is to nourish and serve community. She’s practical, patient and a very good listener. She’s the hearth and holder of the flame. She’s my pride and joy. And I’ve named her after my mom in honor of the woman with the largest heart in my life, who was all of these things and more. In 2017, I embarked on what I thought would be a fun weekend project…. I had been baking sourdough bread for a while (trendsetter that I am) and thought it would be fun to bake au naturale. I got a book about building an earth oven and read all about it—how hard could it be? Three long years later, I finally finished and fired her up over Memorial Day weekend.
What a glorious feeling!!! When the last block of sand fell with a thud from the oven roof, I felt a rush of joy I hadn’t experienced since the final push that launched our son into the world. I filled her with a small pile of kindling, and she quickly began to glow with warmth. Soon she was ready to take my sourdough pizza and transform it into a sizzling treat pulled right from her fiery fresh belly. Then and there, I knew she was going to be an important part of my life.
Like painting, building this oven is as much about the journey for me as the finished product. In too many areas of my life, I have eschewed the effort and focused solely on the outcome. It’s not a healthy habit, and I don’t recommend it.
Through art and nature, I have learned to embrace the journey with all its attendant aches and pains, as well as the occasional spectacular view.
I invite you, too, to embrace the journey and savor the summits. This is a time to be grateful for both, and I plan to spend time doing just that while hanging with Eleanor.
Here’s a short video tribute to Eleanor and the process of building her.