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Friday, August 23, 2013

Stories from Shell Beach: La Boulangerie de ma Tante

My Aunt's Bakery

My Aunt Sophronia returned from Jakarta back in the late 1960's, and she had brought with her an Indonesian floating fishing hut, which she has disassembled into pieces, and numbered the pieces - just as William Randolph Hearst has done with entire medieval cloisters to transport them to San Simeon - and brought it all back to Shell Beach.

She immediately recreated it, then set to work to re-design a similar land-based structure to function as a bakery and cafe at Shell Beach. It would be raised - as is the hut - to allow for storm surges. The main superstructure had as a kernel a Sears gazebo:
(illustration from Sears catalogue)

and was expanded upon.
It was enclosed in the places which were to be the main working and baking areas:

and there were areas that were not "enclosed", but were - in a sense -  more "captured" for a brief period, perhaps like a song bird might be captured within a photograph, or as fresh air of mountains is briefly retained within your lungs. This was done with frames and canvas and fabric:

These were typically the eating areas, some sitting areas, and a few of the summer sleeping spots (It was a combination home/work structure).

The ambiance was charming, as the few remaining pictures - as that above - show us. The photo above is one of the last few remaining.

The bakery became, in the course of time a center of a small Shell Beach business community.

The structure was more like white work embroidery, rather than ordinary architecture. It was a frame of drawn threads filled in with just enough fabric, so that there was enough body for a door lock and enough clean air in between to render the security device laughable.

Consider a white work cottage:

Then take this building, formidable enough, and stretch it open, such as is done with drawn thread work:

and imagine the results as a haloed lady dancing, linen and air, flax and finesse, a pennon of the arts:

Such was the bakery and such were Sophronia's croissants: the substantial made aerial.

I remember that next door there was a bar. It sold liquors of anisette and the various tinctures of youth, manhood and womanhood, and various herbals for inflammation of rebellion as well as the relief of it. The alcohol of lavender was the acrobatics of ancient Egyptian Nut and Geb, and had no hang-over; there may have been a sense of remorse, but that was the tristesse of all creatures and beings.

I can still hear the fabric walls stretched like Christo's Gates in Central Park
blowing in the on shore breeze, the rattle of the wooden framework and
sticks, and the bright sunshine scattered omnipresent by the turbidity of the smoke-like linen that formed the walls of Sophronia's bakery.


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