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There are certain Saturdays.
As I write this, the thermometer hovers at nineteen degrees. Still, it’s burning season and the rough winter has left us with piles of debris. My husband patrols out back, wearing his wool-plaid burning shirt, tending to a fire. Our daughter, currently taking an extended break from school, has left for work…a double shift which means she’ll be gone until late. And I’m here, in the house, dressed in fleece and sweats, listening to the furnace click on and off while I play YANKEE MAGAZINE.
Almost thirty years ago, my husband’s mother bought us a subscription to YANKEE, a lifestyle publication featuring in-depth stories about New England culture that warm me deep down. My favorite piece is a regular essay called “The View from Mary’s Farm,” by author Edie Clark. By crafting the right details and employing a lyrical rhythm of words, she invites her readers to step into the wood stoves, the apple trees, the stone walls of her life. In truth, when I began writing my own essays in Middle Passages, I saw myself as an Edie Clark wannabe. I still do.
I’ve learned a lot from Edie over the years. About building a new life when an old one passes on, about small town idiosyncrasies and politics. Through one of her books, I’ve come to know food that touches the heart, chowders and codfish cheeks, the pleasures of community suppers. Each of her essays comes to me as a truthful kind of fantasy that adds depth to my own life. And when I’m lucky, once in a while, a day arrives in which everything aligns in such a way that I may consciously emulate Edie. Today is one of them, and while I work, I’m making beans.
I’ve already finished the blog post overdue from last week. It’s all tuned up, ready to publish Monday, which leaves me with this post for Wednesday, tweaks to a SOUTH SHORE LIVING article due on Friday, and review of a critique partner’s manuscript. And the beans. I soaked them last night, and as I write this, they simmer on the stove. In a while, I’ll drain them, dress them with molasses or maple syrup, add an onion, mustard, some thyme and boiling water. I'll place them in a low oven and let them bake all afternoon. That’s my project.
Thanks to Edie, it’s what makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something Saturday-necessary and house worthy while I perch in front of the computer and write. Tonight, I’ll sit down to supper draped in the comforting mantle of a day filled with good and enjoyable work.
By sundown, there will be words and beans, and not long after, a bellyfull of comfort. In my mind, you can't get more YANKEE than that.