Blueberry Communion

Blueberry Communion

On Sunday mornings in deep summer, we stroll up MacArthur Road to the farm stand atop the hill. Our walk is canopied by lush green until we arrive under the bright expanse of sky–for the morning service.

Each parishioner, barefoot or sandaled in the grass, takes communion from the tray beside the coffee pot: a golden scone filled with juicy goodness.

Today’s choice is raspberry or blueberry; the latter having just ripened on the hill.

I am not fit for company this morning, so I tuck a scone into my basket, and head into the field under the netting where the berries grow.

I cannot pluck a single berry without slipping into the past–falling in beside my great-grandmother Mildred in Delaware–picking and packing and canning and freezing to last us through winter.

Today, it seems I can’t pick at all. My husband has slipped in beside me and works diligently at a single bush, while I bob from plant to plant, taking in the shades of blue and purple and black, in communion with Nana.

The dew on the berries lightens the impact of yesterday’s trauma: A diving accident. A cat scan. 16 stitches. Blood pouring down my son’s face as he emerges from the pond.

This morning he is reborn. Prancing down the stairs, dressed in white, claiming, “I might as well wear something nice since I can’t do anything to get dirty.”

At 16, his life is temporarily restricted by this injury; but at 47, I feel undone, not just by what happened but what could have happened.

As my husband fills a basket with berries for breakfast, I pluck, as our youngest once did–nibbling my way through the patch–letting the sweetness of the last day of July soften my spirit on this Sunday morning.


Halloween Vermont Style

Halloween Vermont Style

A family of pumpkins on the back porch, photo: Will DeBock

“I really like the houses where we sit down and talk to people.”
Aidan, age 14 (last trick or treat?)

Halloween is a unique experience of community in rural Vermont. Unlike the warp speed of suburban trick-or-treating, there’s lots of downtime (aka. distance) between houses here–either by foot or by car. This took getting used to at first, but my kids were born here so they never knew the difference.

Over the years, I’ve come to treasure this slowed experience, taking cues from my kids, who seemed unfazed by the pace, stopping in at homes to sit and visit, munching on the baked goodies while we talk, and getting acquainted with members of the community we may know only from sight.

Each family has their own highlights for sure. I know that mine loves the bit of walking we do from house to house on our mile-long dirt road, bumping into others in the dark and banding together as we arrive to spend time with neighbors.

Margaret and John’s has been a favorite over the years, and we feel the sting of her loss now.  Jean at the Inn is another highlight–with hot cider for all, and amazing cookies for the kids (they always share …after I beg.)

Rachel and Pieter live way out from the center of town, but their homemade donuts are worth the  drive. Then there’s Gail’s fudge up on the hill, and Megan’s pumpkin seeds and blonde brownies. (We miss her old dog Millie.)

When Kirsten was teaching at the school, she made homemade taffy in her kitchen on her back road; now Liz and Craig share homemade treats there.

Sometimes, there’s a bonfire down North Pond Road; and often a moonlit view from atop Cow Path 40.

On a warmer Hallows Eve, we’d eat dinner in the small cemetery on Fox Road.  Our friend Jesse is there now so we’ll at least stop to leave something at his headstone.

The hardest part of a rural Halloween for me is that we never get many trick-or-treaters ourselves. I love that knock on the door, and the sight of costumed child on my porch whose bag I get to help fill with treats.  Now I bring the treats with me so that I can share them with friends along the way.

Popcorn or candy?” I’ll ask.  The kids take the popcorn.  The adults all want candy.

Kelly Salasin, 2009

ps. Click here for “Candy Capitalism.”