Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blue Mt. Retreat: Day Two

What were you doing this morning between 6:30 and 8:30??

Here I am after two hours in the no-briar blackberry patch! In the pic I'm holding my compensation for my picking 9 quarts of blackberries: one quart of berries, one quart of Roma tomatoes, and some basil for bruscetta tonight.

When I arrived at the gardens at the foot of the hill where we're staying, Beth sent me to the hoop house (not a greenhouse although it appeared to be one) to gather the basil. She then outfitted me with a broad-brimmed hat doused with SkinSoSoft to ward off the swarms of gnats that seem to abound at the garden. She introduced me to her neighbor who sometimes helps her out with vegetables she needs. (I actually think he provided the tomatoes I took because Beth's tomatoes were barely turning.) I was given a picker to use which was an empty quart-sized container threaded with hemp to go over your head. That left both hands free to pick--very ingenious. Once I picked that container full, I emptied it into the flat of pints. Finally I filled 12 generous pints and moved on to a flat of quarts. After two I decided it was time to get back to the writing life, so I picked one more quart to take along. Quite a productive morning.
That is not to mention the added joy I had with Mary, a neighbor who also came to pick. Turns out, she is quite the reader and recommended many summer books for me. She works at the McClellan Museum near here. That perked me up because my mother-in-law met my father-in-law when he was stationed at Ft. McClellan in Anniston, AL. She is also a gardener and comes to pick for Beth here in order to also "pick" Beth's brain about organic farming. High on her reading list was a book called Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strought. This is a book of linked short stories. No way could Mary have known that I, myself, have a current writing project of linked short stories with a protagonist named Clyde!! Would you believe Strought's book won a Pulitzer?? Once I get settled down here and stop gardening, I will now be eager to resume my work on that project.

I believe in signs. I was supposed to be in that patch picking berries this morning with Mary. It's just like Patti's experience here. She had an epiphany this morning about writing a children's story about flying animals--those you don't expect to fly. Then when she went outside, a beautiful butterfly landed on her finger and wouldn't leave her.
That, to me, was an affirmation of her idea.

Want to see the finished product from yesterday's blackberries?
Edie sopped the pan! I don't think anyone remembered to take pics after they were baked. The little circular pie is mostly juice topped with the remainder of the pie dough. We were too hungry from the good smells from the oven to take pics. We ate it topped with lemon sorbet--a little more tartness, a little more sweetness.
And Gayle (who has just fixed me a snack of peanut butter/apple) and Patti are waiting to see if I'm ever going to work a little on writing--

as Bonnie is so diligently doing in the dining room.
So here I go to the real work. . . but, first, maybe I'll have lunch and a little nap. Things are so tough here.


Donny Bailey Seagraves said...

Okay, I see what I'm missing! Those pies look so good.

Edie said...

Yes, Donny, you missed the delicious cobbler last night, and Kathleen just made some bruscetta from the plum tomatoes and basil she picked this morning! I thought we were going to be writing more than eating. Wish you were here...

Donny Bailey Seagraves said...

I know you all had a lot of fun this week. Hope you also got some writing done. And yes, Edie, you can say "I told you so!" I've thought many times this week of what I was missing. What a treat to be a part of your retreat for even one night.

Message in a Blog

  About twenty Birmingham language arts teachers endured my holding forth yesterday in my current gig as a Road Scholar ...