Sunday, August 16, 2009


Harvest days

Late summer in Maine is so often about fruition. We're in the middle of a hot stretch of weather and the landscape is responding with abundance and literally, fruit, everywhere we look. Ryan and I have been foraging and canning off and on over the past weeks. He's turned into a master jam-maker, a development I somehow never envisioned in our evolving relationship. Must be all this country living. Our garden is growing in fits and starts - the dill is taller than the corn, for example. The pumpkins are finally flowering like crazy but it might be too late for them to develop actual pumpkins before frost comes, I just don't know. The tomatoes are leggy and green, also. I'm lucky to get enough for two servings every two or three days. Last year at this time we were giving away extra quarts, after eating all we could. The flowers are very happy, though. Witness the response of the sweet peas to all the rain in June and July, and now finally, some truly hot sun:

They're taller than I am. Soon I'll have to interleave some dead branches in the top of the snow fence, so they can keep on climbing. One of my favorite flowers, for their silkiness, color, hardy delicacy, and heady scent.

Back to the fruit, though - this year we've raked blueberries, foraged for raspberries and the very first of the blackberries, and just lately, for cranberries - something I've never seen out there for the picking, until we found a little spot way downeast. Here's Ryan out filling his canning jar, in the wild:

Yesterday we were in this very spot for a second visit, and handpicked three quarts in about two hours, between hiking to and fro, and taking a break to jump in the ocean as the tide was rising and filling the cove we were next to with that delicious bone-chilling open-ocean coldness. Lovely on a ninety-degree day. I was still cold even after a long hike back to the car.

Earlier in the day we both worked at the Machias Blueberry Festival - Ryan timing the early-morning road race, and me picking books at the library book sale, conveniently located right next to the road race course. I gleaned three boxes of books for twenty-five dollars, including a lovely little book from the 1850s on the cultivation of cranberries. (Is there such a thing as coincidence? Me, I think not.) I also found an early Mark Twain item, a Willy Pogany first edition, a huge self-published book on collecting railroad uniform buttons (so obsessive, so great...), and a stack of other interesting things. August, a good harvest month indeed.

Comments: might have to share the books in Machias with me next summer! I have just resolved again to cross the Jesup sale off of my list. (This resolve usually lasts a year or two.) There are probably enough books and blueberries for the two of us!
Vicky, I think I was the only book dealer there, so yes, plenty of room for others! I also sampled some wicked good blueberry juice at the festival, just to entice you a bit more.

I gave up on the Bar Harbor sale some years ago - too crowded, books too expensive for me.
What a lovely photo of the berry gatherer.
He's one of my favorite foragers too.
Glad the berries have been plentiful
in the face of the poor garden crops this year.

:-) xox MIL
We picked six quarts of blackberries today, from a giant bramble in the woods nearby. And many aren't even ripe yet. Yum!
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