I know that some people like eating the ends of a loaf of bread, the crusty, earthy part. I always prefer the moist, spongey center, the bubbly and porous surface that seems to welcome whatever butter or jam you might spread on it.
Being well beyond my wonder years, where ultra-white Wonder Bread might be served up in any day’s lunch box or slathered with mayonnaise for a quick and easy sandwich, these days, I rarely buy pre-sliced loaves.
As I’m pretty sure of my preferences when it comes to bread, I suppose it should have been no surprise, while I was freshening up my fridge recently, throwing away expired boxes of broth and such, to come across three 1.5” mill plastic bread bags that contained one end, one loaf “heel,” each.
I don’t like to waste food, but I would need to be pretty hard up to smear cream cheese on the last slice in a bag and consume it. I even prefer using store-bought panko for any recipe calling for bread crumbs.
I didn’t mean for multiple bags to accumulate, but that’s what happened Several times, thought was given to tearing up the end slices in small bits and leaving them for the birds in a nearby park but my dog, India, accompanies me on most of my walks, and small bits of bread would barely make it to the ground before her snout would be all over them.
I decided to bring my bags of bread scraps to the park when I took a walk alone. I concluded it best to tear the slices into small pieces and not expect to see a large feeding frenzy.
I had to be deliberate about the mission and not attached to any idea of desired result.
Some birds, like swallows and blackbirds, were just beginning to return to the Midwest and non-migratory birds, like cardinals, did not didn’t necessarily have Manor Park tagged In their internal GPS as a “favorite” place to graze.
I tore the slices into chunks at home and placed them in their original bags and stuffed them in my parka’s pockets (as if the birds cared whether multi-seed was mixed in with whole wheat).
Then, when I got to the park, I decided the pieces were too big and tore them into smaller pieces. I scattered them about me.
Ah, I looked at my feet. It was like the ground had turned into a close-up of a pointillist painting. Brown and beige shavings of bread mixed in with the blackness of mud and a few greenish blades of grass. From a distance, I imagined, the colors would all blend together.
It was too cold to stay and watch, to see if any birds appreciated what I left for them. I made a special trip and even tried to make sure the bread crumbs were small enough to find their way into their bellies. But that didn’t matter.
Time to make my offering and head home.
It made me feel good.
My finances were not grand. My prospects were not especially exciting. My emotions were more than a little frayed. I wasn’t confident about having anything to give.
Then, I remembered that listening to someone who needed to be heard, smiling, hugging (or fist bumping), winking or nodding to show someone that they were being seen, giving directions to a stranger or choosing when not to “opinion-ate” to a friend, extending a compliment about a good intention, saying “thanks,” or leaving bread crumbs for birds shouldn’t be dismissed.
Knowing that you always have something to give is no small thing.