Remembering our Backyard Baker

For Dorie – the Bionic Baker/Biker

Lissa Pierce Bonifaz

An empty shelf at All Things Local
An empty shelf at All Things Local

One summer day in June of 2010, I biked to Simple Gifts Farm to pick up my share. To my disappointment, Bread Euphoria had been replaced by Backyard Bakery. This new bread had heft with which I was not accustomed. So, I asked Jeremy, “what’s with the shift?”

He explained that Dorie was a local patron to the farm and that her bread was “out of this world”. So, I took loaves of flaxseed and Danish rye home. My family loved it. Dorie’s bread was soulful: full of substantive nutrition and texture. It found its way into my morning routine of hot tea, buttered toast and marmalade. And I came to depend on Dorie’s bread each morning like one needs water when walking through a desert.

Dorie got around-on her bike that is. I bought her bread at the Amherst Farmer’s Market, at Kendrick Park, at the Swartz’s farm, at Portabello’s and most recently at All Things Local. She quickly became known as a local superhero like no other: an entrepreneur, single mother of two teen-age boys who moved her bread around town on bike. She seemed superhuman; using mixers taller than her to bake a bazillion loaves of bread and bike them around town, no matter the weather. A spark in our midst. Who inspired so many to think beyond the conventional choices we, women were being given in this small town.

dorieJust three weeks ago, Elsie, of Aunt Elsie’s Cookie Crisps shared with me how she and Dorie supported each other during the more difficult months of the winter market. I told her that the two of them were real inspirations to other women who would like to be entrepreneurs, but lacked the courage that these two women so abundantly shared. I went to Dorie’s table next and bought my last two loaves of her bread. My daughter was with me and asked her, “where’s your green car?”

She told us that her bike mobile was broken and she didn’t know how it could get fixed. She smiled at us and then moved to attend to another customer. While leaving, I wondered if it was difficult for Dorie to go back to driving when she was so committed to her travels by bike. I knew these ideals were her bread and butter.

It seems ironic that the very world Dorie was trying to protect would be the culprit for her tragic death. Out enjoying Mother Nature, she was swallowed up by frozen falls and taken from us so abruptly. This does not seem natural to me.

It is hard to make meaning out of such a tragedy for her family and our community. Perhaps her energy burned so bright precisely because it knew its finite ending.

As I finish the last few crumbs of her beloved bread, I am assured that I have known a local heroine like no other. 

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