It started snowing. And the moment I came into the drive, I felt like I was home. Imagine,” she said, grinning warmly, “I came from lovely, sunny spring weather.” This was in April of 1978. A young Spanish lassie, who was based in Paris, she was longing to relocate, with no other plan but the curiosity a fellow traveller had left in her head about a community in Aberdeen where people shared their lives together. “I had no idea about this - Aberdeen, Scotland? Rudolf Steiner? Not a clue.” This is how Clara Ovejero first set eyes on Camphill.
The community she first came to was called Temple Hill. She would live and work in this community for only a short period of time, after which it would close down (to her disappointment), setting her free to journey through Holland, Spain, and other places during a ten-year span commuting to and from Aberdeen - working for a small community, teaching in a veggie co-op, and more travelling. But she remembered rural Aberdeen, and this would leave a mark on her – and bring her back.
Clara Ovejero has been the Bakery Manager for over two-and-a-half decades. In Newton Dee, she does not only seem to be regarded as the head of the workshop, but as an icon of the community. Every morning, while the villagers and co-workers shuffle in, you can always see the glee in their eyes, even when the day is looking grey – Clara is there from six a.m., waiting and ready for her team.
When I asked Clara for an interview, she said immediately “Yes, of course. Come tomorrow morning for tea break.” The next morning I joined the bakery at half ten. Everyone was already at the table, chatting away. Soon Clara was talking about the workshop with great charisma and fervour. She wanted me to have a glimpse of that magnificent world where everyone seems to have a smile on his or her face.
We talked so much that by the time I readied to leave I found my tea was still undrunk. A few days later I called again and asked her for an interview for The Blether. We met again, at tea break, this time in her office.
The first thing I asked was: How did you meet Newton Dee? “Oh, I already knew this place very well,” she said, as clear as day. “I used to do my shopping in Newton Dee. I lived near the river, you see. I used to come to the bakery all the time. Then one day, in 1994, the baker asked me, ‘Would you imagine working here?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yes. But I don’t see myself living in ND.’ And then he said, “But now we are more flexible. There are many people working here who don’t live here as well.’”
Then I asked: What drew your attention, your interest to the bakery and ND?
“People,” she said. “The people were the main reason. The combination of the people that live here is great. They live and work together. They’re so clear. They’re not self-conscious. They don’t want you to like them. They just are. I love to see how they evolve, the change in their time here. Also with the co-workers - as workers and humans.” Then she added, “I always liked the ethos of the place, the values.”
Our conversation grew so interesting, and at the same time I knew I had only a few minutes more, so I finally asked: “What kept you coming back?” which is the one question I really knew I wanted to ask Clara all along. “It’s never been boring. I’m always learning, as a human being as well – it never stops.” Then, after a short pause, she said, “On paper I run it, but we do it together. We are very aware of each other; have respect for each other.” I felt I didn’t have to dig deeper than that. Clara’s answer didn’t just come in words, but with the smile she wore. Her modesty had taken over the room while she sat, patiently waiting to hear my next question, shrugging and rubbing her hands to stay warm.
I asked her my final question: What is your favourite product that you make in the bakery? She said it is the Czech sour dough bread with pumpkin seeds, and hung the laurels on Juan (from Capella House). So now bakery aficionados know what to buy next!
I realised I had more answers than I had come for. I had understood well, and at the same time it would take me a long time to really get it, to break down the wisdom Clara handled with words as seamlessly as the buns she kneads with her palm and fingers. I remember thinking Clara must love what she does, the people she works with, and that that is what shines through her. The interview, sadly, was over - and my tea, again, was cold.