Because it is warm and breezy and effortless. Because there’s little to worry about. Because the sun went down at 7:30pm and somehow that feels early. Because you’ve got many imperfect months ahead of you. Because you can picture what August will feel like a year from now and it seems just as sweet. Because the peaches and raspberries and blackberries were all fresh, right from the source today. Because after August everything changes, and this is the nectar of the year.
My memory of my great-grandparents on my father’s side is of photographs: suited and crisp in front of a European monument, casual (in a formal sort of way, and still crisp) next to me on the swing in a picture proving that I was too little to remember them. But I have pieces of them. My middle name was my great-grandmother’s (Charlotte), and I have hints of their French traits on my face and in my mannerisms.
The day I left for Europe, in March, I randomly texted my father: Do you know where Nanny and Pappy were from? They were his grandparents; what I know of them came from him (he, perhaps, passed down those French traits - although I refuse to pronounce croissant qwaSAHN). Hours later he called me with more information than I could have hoped for. He did not know where Nanny was from, but Pappy, turns out, grew up in Paris. He gave me the address of where he went to school, the street he lived on, and where his father (my great-great-grandfather) worked. I felt like I had just been given a treasure map. A few hours later I hopped on a plane.
Being in Paris, knowing that my family members, some of whom had been alive after I had been born, had lived there, was an indescribable feeling. Europeans like to make fun of Americans for trying to search out and relate to their roots. That’s an easy position to take when you’re roots are not only all around you, but deeper and older than America.
It was pretty special to see the school my great grandfather attended. There were even students standing around outside.
After checking out the school I walked (the route he would have walked) to the street he grew up on. It was clear that the housing had been rebuilt since the early 1900s, but the street layout was the same.
It was near a train station and I was informed that it would have been sooty and loud. My great-grandfather would have come from a working class family. Then I got a chocolat pain from the same bakery he used to get them from nearly 100 years ago.
Pappy’s father, my great-great-grandfather, worked at what was formerly Gare d’Orsay, now known as Musée d’Orsay. You can imagine what it was like almost 100 years ago and what it would have felt like when it was still a train station. It now housed the most amazing collection of art I have ever seen on one floor.
To spend time in Paris is pure magic. It is so unbelievably (and perfectly) cliche in the best way. It sweeps you up and wraps around your heart. To walk around a place like that and see your family’s history right in front of you - where they worked, lived, and played, takes it to new, deeper level. Everyone wants to feel a connection to Paris, I am no exception, but having such real roots there and seeing them right in front of my eyes made me feel a certain kind of connection I had never felt to a place before.
Weeks after returning from Paris my father pulled out some of Pappy’s things that had been left to his safe keeping, some of which I had seen before, including his work books from school. Having been to the school where he would have completed them brought me around full circle. His meticulous attention to detail always amazes me.
I might not have memories of my great-grandparents in the flesh, but I have meaningful glimpses into what their life was like, and for the first time feel a true connection to my lineage.
I wonder what Nanny and Pappy would think of Paris and France now. I wonder what they would think if they walked where I had walked, seen what I saw. Would they recognize it? Would they long for it? What would they have to say about the United States?
What would they have to say about me?
I was recently asked to share ten things about myself. I make a point to maintain my privacy on my blog, but I thought this would be a good challenge and help some of my followers get to know me a little bit.
When I look back to my first page of blog posts I can honestly say I don’t know why I started blogging. I have continued to blog because it is a small creative outlet for me in what is otherwise a busy, fast-paced life. It has also helped me develop my voice as a writer.
I am first and foremost a creative person, but I’m also practical and organized, which means my creative side often gets tucked behind the other stuff. I have realized in the past year that of all my creative pursuits writing is the most important to me. After the marathon in the fall I plan on spending my free time this winter writing more. I am currently working on a non-fiction book. I struggle on a daily basis trying to find the balance between needing to work to make money to live and wanting to run off to the woods, grow my own food, write, and forget about the world.
It might sound cheesy but I believe in the power of the universe. I think if you know what you want and you put it out there, and work really hard, it usually comes your way. Oh Joy’s posts about being a goal getter (you can read part 1 and part 2 on her blog) really resonated with me. I remind myself from time to time that I’m never going to be a writer if I don’t write, and it motivates me to, well, write. Something you really want to do/have in your life? get on it. You might have to make a change, or a hard decision or two, but hell, what if your dreams come true in the process?
I am 28 and a half.
I wish I didn’t care so much about right or wrong, or worrying about the consequences. I don’t make decisions unless I have thought long and hard about what the outcome will mean in the moment and in the future. I wish I were more forgiving.
I don’t know what I would do without my mom’s support and advice.
Running is one of the most important things in my life. Long runs are where I get to remove myself from the rest of the world, have some time to just be in my mind and not worry about what other people want from me. It is my moment of peace.
Part of my philosophy on life is to be healthy. I think we have a responsibility to those around us whom we love to eat well and take care of our bodies so we can be around for a long time. If putting down the McDonalds and the soda and instead eating well and going for long walks meant you had an extra year, or decade, with the ones you love, shouldn’t you do it? It seems like the one thing that makes it worth it, no matter how hard or inconvenient it is (and it doesn’t take long to realize it isn’t that hard or inconvenient).
I have a Bachelor’s in Business Management and a Masters in Community Planning and Development. I have worked in nonprofit fundraising, climate change planning, and both qualitative and quantitative research. My current job is in energy.
I have been on national tv, sang in The White House, and met Meryl Streep.
A night on the lake
The leaves are changing and I’ve been afraid to tell you. I thought it was just a branch or two but everyday there are more trees blushing on the same road. It is like a whisper, or a warning. It is early. Usually there’s a leaf or two by now, but nothing like this.
People keep saying there’s more heat on the way. I feel like the only one who knows the truth - the real heat is long gone. It has been two weeks of cool, relieving nights. The world is shifting towards settling in. The leaves are proof that this is not just a blip, there is no going back.
What I feel most guilty about is my relief. I have always considered spring my favorite season because it awakens me from the depths of winter; it is my salvation. But fall is sultry and luscious and cozy and romantic and comforting and reassuring and heartfelt and nostalgic. It has all the benefits of summer without the humidity. And it’s beautiful, gosh darn beautiful.
I’m coming clean. If you drive north of Portland in I-295 you’re going to see that the leaves are starting to change, despite the calendar. The nights are getting cool and it feels wonderful. Fall is coming. It’s frightening to think summer was especially short this year, but maybe fall will be especially long to make up for it. I’m ok with that, I guess.
Send me a message or reply and help turn my bad day around.
Tonight, from the garden
The much anticipated first harvest of the artichokes. Dreams really do come true.
This weekend I was in logging country, an hour from any major city. An hour on dirt roads not quite two lanes wide. I was mere feet from the lake at almost all times, if not on it. I slept to the sound of the lake water against the rocks at the shore. The cool night and fresh air helped me to sleep much later than I have in a long time. There was a big campfire and shooting stars.
I moved back to Maine because there was nowhere else I wanted to live. I moved back because it is the most beautiful place I ever knew. It’s not just beautiful though. It’s unassuming, and humble, and quiet, and welcoming, and wide-open, and comforting. It’s refreshing, and soulful, and understanding. It doesn’t judge, or ask you to conform. It is straightforward. What you see is what you get. It is a place of balance - living here is not living the easy life. It allows you to do what is most important to you, to find your own blend of the good life.
Today my mind is still at the lake, where tinges of color are just starting to kiss the leaves of the swamp maples. When it is cold and gray I will have this to carry me though.
If you live in Maine you’re not eating enough lobster. Help a Mainer out!
Here’s an interesting chart the Press Herald published of retail lobster prices over the past few years:
AVERAGE ANNUAL WHOLESALE LOBSTER PRICES
2012 statewide average: $2.69/pound
2011 statewide average: $3.19/pound
2010 statewide average: $3.31/pound
2009 statewide average: $2.93/pound
2008 statewide average: $3.51/pound
Average prices for 2013 will not be released until the season ends.
Source: Division of Marine Resources
The retail price at Hannaford right now is $5.99/lb. If you’re buying a lobster at Hannaford you’re from out of town. Buy it at one of the million local fish shops and it will be less.
I’ve been doing my part…
Off to the middle of nowhere Maine to my parents cabin for a much needed long weekend of doing almost nothing. By middle of nowhere I mean an unrecognized territory. The 2000 Census reported just 73 full-time residents there.
Rented a paddleboard for the weekend - so psyched to try it myself, and that the whole family will get to give it a go.
Looking forward to sleeping in a tent for two nights. With an expected low of 55 degrees I’m committed to some seriously good sleeping (the sound of the lake water nipping at the rocks on the shore should help, too).
Big ol camp fires.
Running 12 miles on old logging roads. 12 miles of dirt. Should be quite a treat.
Swimming! I’m looking forward to getting a good cross-train in (gotta strengthen those hips for the higher mileage that is creeping up on me) by swimming to the edge of the cove and back.
Lastly, relaxing. I don’t know why it is so hard to do nothing these days. Seems it takes a four hour drive to no-man’s-land, but so be it.
The other night at Duckfat I tried one of their homemade sodas. (Disclaimer: I don’t drink soda. I don’t even really like it anymore [a sharp ginger beer or a not-too-sweet but strong root beer are exceptions from time to time]. Drinking a lot of soda can cause heart disease. It’s mostly sugar. I don’t see the point.)
One of Duckfat’s sodas stood out to me though, and was not like your average soda, or even all the others. It was called the All Maine Tonic. What an interesting mix of ingredients it contained: raw honey, maple syrup, raw cider vinegar, and chaga (which is not listed on the menu I linked to, but is on the updated one in the restaurant). I’ve been on a fruitless search for my own chaga, which only made me more curious to try this.
So I ordered it, tried it, and was instantly in love. It was refreshing, it was sweet (not too sweet), and it was good for me, even though it was impossible to tell.
I had most of the ingredients at home so I decided to mix up a version of my own. It came out pretty well. Here’s the recipe.
3-4 Tablespoons raw cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of raw honey
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
3/4 of a pint glass of seltzer (I used Trader Joe’s unflavored because it is good and bubbly)
Put the honey, syrup, and cider in a small glass jar and microwave for 30 seconds and then whisk the ingredients together. Pour seltzer into a glass and then pour the cider-syrup in. Add ice cubes until the glass is full.
I thought using seltzer might not be the same, and that I would have to invest in an industrial co2 machine, but I was wrong. It tasted pretty much the same (don’t use flat seltzer).
Summery and healthy. “Soda” all around.