January in Maine offers the gifts of rest, replenishment and quiet beauty. Snow creates beautiful, transient works of art right outside my windows offering a private gallery I’m sharing with you:
I’m thrilled to have been quoted in the Winter Guide issue of Portland Monthly Magazine! Contributor Sofia Voltin did a piece on brides who wore non-traditional wedding dresses:
Snooty ghosts hovered around old houses along the winding road to the Inn that brought passers by to inviting nooks and crannies. Inside the lobby of the Inn, starched people laughed and sipped cold beverages. Outside, a veranda displayed a view of the water with a faraway mountain watermark in the hazy pale sky. The dim library housed well-aged books, and as I entered the room the wood floor creaked like an ornery granny reprimanding me for not being more ladylike in my footsteps. The shelves were filled with titles from a time that only those beyond had experienced. Alone in the room with just the hundreds of us, I felt that I was about to be entrusted with their secrets. I ran my finger along their spines and stopped at the title, Now Or Never, or, The Adventures of Bobby Bright by Oliver Optic*.
Wayne and I are now members of St. David’s in Kennebunk during the off-season of St. Ann’s. We have some dear friends from St. Ann’s who are members and it’s a really good fit for us. Despite the half hour ride early in the very cold morning we enjoy it! I’ve come to realize that when the fit is right, it doesn’t feel like a hassle. Life is too precious, whether it be short or long, to not go someplace every week where we feel uplifted and what we can bring is appreciated.
Today after the early service there was an “alternative gift market” offering handmade treasures from Bethlehem and Haiti!
George H.W. Bush had always simply been a former President to me and Wayne, that is until we became members of St. Ann’s. We’ve had the honor to witness the Bush family as human beings and fellow parishioners, and are moved by how genuinely lovely they are. We had many conversations after that first time we saw them about how we both had been guilty of dehumanizing them over the years if we didn’t agree with decisions they had made as politicians. Seeing them as a close-knit family where former Presidents are loving fathers and grandpas was a teaching moment and humbling. Our hearts and prayers are with the Bush family as they grieve the loss of a wonderful human being, great grandpa, grandpa and father.
In the news: Kennebunkport pays homage to a fellow townsman
If you’re not from Maine, you might think the above photo is of a homemade Mounds candy bar. You’re close! But you’d probably be shocked to learn that they contain mashed potatoes in the coconut centers! They are a delicious traditional Maine candy called “Needhams” which have also historically been called “potato candy” or “potato fudge”. However, if you are from Maine and familiar with Needhams you may be surprised to discover that the modern version has gone far astray from yesterday’s healthier and more wholesome homemade versions dating as far back as 1924.
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
I’m not sure what month the vintage photo was taken, but it likely wasn’t in November! We’ve had record-breaking snowfall this month. It’s ironic because it was only a week and a half ago that Wayne insisted we order that day the sparkly new two-stage snowblower to replace our existing single-stage. I wanted to wait until closer to December so that we could see how it performed in an actual storm and still be within the 30 day window to return it if he didn’t like it. I gave in but not without a bit of an eyeball roll and a comment about his being overly cautious. Well, it won’t be here until this weekend so to make up for it (and burn some calories in advance of tomorrow!) I hand shoveled our entire driveway three times yesterday as a surprise for Wayne for when he got home from work!
Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)
A year ago this week a chipmunk I later named Wishy walked into our life. Although he is no longer on this earth he is still with us. One of the many things he showed me is that you never know when something or someone wonderful will show up out of the blue and bring you unexpected happiness. At that time there was no snow on the ground and temps were above normal. It felt like an extended October! Wishy didn’t go into his burrow for the winter until early December after our first gentle snowfall. That experience taught me to not dread November, so I went into it with a positive and accepting attitude this year. Sunset before 4:30? I can cope. Brown leaves and bare trees? Poetic. But to have our first snow not even be of the fluffy introductory variety and instead 6 inches of wet heavy crusty February-esque snow? That’s a clear and unexpected boundary violation. Right?! I’m so relieved that it didn’t happen last year, because we would have never met Wishy!