How is it possible my starter just died?
I have been using my wild yeast starter for a bit over 5 months now. Week after week my starter served me right and each loaf came out perfect. I used it last Sunday to make two loafs; fed it, let it rest for an hour, then put it back in the fridge. I was scheduled to leave home for 9 days today so I thought I would make two more loafs before making a stiffer starter and leave it in the fridge for 9 days.
Last night, I made a sponge and this morning it didn't look super active but the bubbles were there. I thought the kitchen was too cold because we have been having cold and stormy weather. I let it sit for an extra hours (total 12 hours) then made a dough before going to work. I came home three hours later and rezlied the dough didn't rise at all. Once again, I thought the kitchen was too cold so I popped the dough in the oven with a pan of hot water. After 1.5 hours, nothing changed!
I knew then it was the starter so I quickly went to check that one cup starter I put in the fridge last night, it didn't look so good. Smelled it, very weak. Since it was time to leave I just fed then let it sit in room temperature for another two hours while I drove. I just got to my destination, looked and smelled it again, worse than before. It now looks like flour in water and smells like flour and water!
Since I always took care of my starter in the same manner, I don't think I killed it. But how is it my starter just decided to die? I thought about putting some commercial yeast in it to kick start but I captured the wild yeast five months ago and would like to go on without commercial yeast. Is there a way I can try to revive my poor starter? Or am I doomed to have to start it over again