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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.
She and her magazine are an inspiration to you. How fortunate you were gifted that subscription!
Well, Miss Liza, I have always felt that your writing IS lyrical. You incorporate the small things going on in your life and attach a deeper meaning (without me feeling like I've beaned on the head or preached to). I love how you draw us into your world. Whether it is a story about your neighbors, sunning yourself in your driveway, listening to the birds chirp, watching your daughter sleep, or the rituals of bean making... I am always right there with you. And I feel right at home.
Oooo, baked beans. Yum. Since they're baked all day, it's a nice way to help keep the home warm, not to mention the aroma!
The birds are singing here, they are doing their best to drag spring up from the south. I can't be long now.
We have a lot of cleanup to do. I've read that magazine though I'm not a subscriber. I do love living in the country and near a small town.
Beautifully written. You almost made this So Cal girl long for a cold afternoon :)
Very nice post, beautiful words. That is what I call a cup of coffee post, when the words make you feel like you are there, and sitting down to share a chat.
I'm Juneta new to IWSG. I'm working on my first novel. Just dropping by to say Hi.
Have a beautiful evening.
Juneta at Writer's Gambit
Those beans sound mighty fine.
And a great way to create a wonderful writing environment.
I love Yankee Magazine and damn those beans sound delicious!
We used to have a subscription to YANKEE Magazine, it's been awhile, but your post feels like something right out of it. I can almost smell and even taste those beans.
Hmmmm, I can practically smell those beans. I used to like to make them with dried lima beans for a slightly different taste. And bacon... gotta have bacon. (Crud. Now I'm gonna have to go see if I've got all the ingredients here to make some baked beans this weekend...)
If you haven't already done it, you should send a note to that magazine writer to let her know how much her writing has inspired you. I bet she'd be thrilled.
It sounds like the perfect magazine to snuggle up with on cold winter days. Now I'm also in the mood for your delicious beans.
Inspiration comes from so many places doesn't it? Sounds like you had a good weekend. :)
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog for Robyn's interview. It's great to meet you!
Winter keeps hanging out everywhere. Doesn't he know he's overstayed his welcome? All the same, I loved this. And now I'm ready for beans. But it won't be tonight.
Hey Liza! It sounds like you really got a lot out of Edie's essays. I love real homemade baked beans. They don't last long around here. I bet yours were delicious. I could smell them in NC. :-) Your Middle Passages honors Edie, Liza. I've learned a lot from you.
I could imagine everything you wrote about. Lovely and warm, even when I know it's so very cold up north. I'm from the south and we haven't been hit as hard this year with winter, but my daughter lives in Ohio and she's really over winter right about now. I can feel how you keep it at bay in this piece. Thanks for sharing. Came over from IWSG. Happy spring-to-come!
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