Toast: an appreciation

by Jeff Oaks

I love toast. I love buttery, crunchy toasted bread. In the morning with butter and blackberry jam. In the afternoon with apples and peanut butter. In the evening, just before bed with butter and cinnamon sugar, my mother’s recipe for happiness. With tea.

In fact I’m going to have some right now. There’s something satisfying in the process of putting the soft slices of bread into the toaster, depressing the lever, and being alone in my kitchen with the smell of bread roasting. There’s not enough time to do anything else, so usually I just stand at the counter and stare out the kitchen window at the patio I need to clean up this year. Then the toaster pops the golden toast up and I reach for the butter.

Buttering itself is a opportunity for mindfulness; the work of the field and the barn combine. Then: how can I get an appropriate amount of butter over every square bit of toast? How many knife swipes does it take? How to saturate richness into every inch so every bite is equally delicious? Then the question of whether to just shove it all in my mouth or eat the crust first and move toward the center where most of the warm bread and butter embrace like lovers.

Then: abruptly the emptiness after, the last bite of salty buttered bread slipping down my throat. I look out the window again, not seeing anything, my consciousness focused inward still. In a minute, I’ll reach for my cup of tea, which will end the ritual. Until then I’m caught between inner and the outer worlds. With nothing in the world to do but lick my lips.