postcard: pittsburg nh

I’m quiet here. From inside to out. Pittsburg is a place you feel in the deepest part of you. There’s a richness to the air here, a deeper breath, and a grateful exhale. I am surprised by the slowing of me. The softening of me. Internally, there’s an easing of some sort. I feel the taut places in me go slack. I stretch my arms wide and high overhead … I reach, breathe, gather, pray. Here, I am a verb of being.

Good morning from Pittsburg, New Hampshire.

Given its 291 square miles in area, Pittsburg tops the list of incorporated New England towns as the largest. The town’s also tucked in at just about the 45th parallel — the most northern town in New Hampshire — bordering not only Canada, but Maine to the east and Vermont to the west. The longest river in New England, the Connecticut River, begins its 410 mile journey toward the Long Island Sound at Fourth Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, a literal stone’s throw from the province of Quebec, Canada.

If you’re in need of a little soul-searching, I’d start here.

Away from home and out of the regular life loop, Pittsburg transforms me. I am different here from there. I think it’s important to notice what a place offers in these moments of the experience, but also what it has to teach me. Who am I here and can I take her home with me?

In Pittsburg I find a rare kind of hope – wild, wide-open, and free. There’s hope in the tremolo of a loon and the unexpected flash of white across the broad chest of a deer. I measure time by the movement of clouds and the flow of water. Even the scolding of a red squirrel stills my soul somehow – or maybe it’s me, myself, still enough to hear it at all. Though we hardly ever meet, moose, bear, fox and I walk the same trails and it seems certain we’ll all find our way bettered from just venturing out in the first place.

cobbler

I love the whole idea of a cobbler. It’s a work-with-what-you’ve-got kind of baking. To cobble means to put together roughly or hastily. And that’s exactly the kind of time I have for baking. It’s a hurry up sort of season. Gather the last of the harvest. Enjoy the very last of summer’s bounty.

Baking. One of my very favorite ways to create. The warmth of the kitchen. The delight in mixing the ordinary to become extraordinary. The anticipation of opening the oven. The certain happiness which comes from leveling a cup of flour. And now … cobbling!

Here’s to the last of the peaches!

Basic Fruit Cobbler

from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Any fruit you bake in a pie, you can add to a cobbler. Peaches, in this case, but apples, pears, cherries, and berries of all kinds work.

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup sherry, brandy, or bourbon*
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh fruit (large fruits sliced, berries left whole)
  • whipped cream or ice cream

*If you’d rather not use liquor, increase the milk in the recipe to 1/4 cup and use a mixture of 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of water in place of the liquor. (This is the option I chose and it was delightful!)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch square pan (or similar casserole dish) or an 11-inch round quiche dish.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Beat together the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar. Add butter and milk. Add the flour mixture, stirring just to combine. Pour the batter into the greased pan.

In a medium-sized saucepan, simmer together the sherry (or the mixture noted above) and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fruit and stir to coat with the syrup. Pour this hot fruit mixture over the batter in the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

a friday kind of calm

I spent about an hour early this morning chopping vegetables for salsa. It was peaceful there in the kitchen, quiet all around but for the brief moments of knife to wood. I stood there chopping amidst remnants of last night’s dinner, a sinkful of dirties, piles of mail, and a counter collection of life’s daily detritus. So the environment itself was anything but serene, and on any other day, I probably would’ve felt rattled by the magnitude I almost always make it to be.

But not today.

Today I woke feeling calm. Confident. Capable. Ready for those dishes and that job and even an unexpected plot twist or two. Maybe overwhelm has no room to take root on a Friday. Maybe my inside knows my outside survived Monday through Thursday, proof Friday is certainly do-able. Maybe there’s a Friday kind of calm.

I’m all for feeling it. And wish it for you as well.

loving lately

warm days and cool nights * avocado toast with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes * monarch butterfly sightings * our tiny, but tall, sunflower patch * porch time * a return to routine * meal prepping vegetables for the week * ripening tomatoes on the windowsill * this dough hook * this app (for a secure connection to one I love so far away) * jigsaw puzzles * lemon ice water * kitchen dancing * fall baking (more on that another day) * football season * curtain- billowing breezes * 43 new students * this (clean) hair styling treatment * end of season sales (for back-to-school-shopping) * mums on the stoop * goal setting * evening walks * hot, buttered popcorn * zinnias * Spotify * five o’clock bird play * red tips on maple leaves * friends and fire pits * four day weekends * this granola recipe * Community Share Agriculture * peach juice dripping down my chin * watercolor painting *

walking with the one I love

Went out walking with my best friend this afternoon. Step by step and side by side a few tenths less than three miles around and about the neighborhood after school. Warmed by the late afternoon sun. Talking. Kicking acorns and hickory nuts down the road. Laughing. Each telling the other a story or two from the day. Or pleasantly silent. Sometimes hand-holding. Always loving.

I don’t know what it is about fall afternoon walks, but it’s become a habit for us over the past several years. And it’s so simple. So easy. Grab a pair of walking shoes and go.

Up and down hills, past fields and fences, alongside a stream or two. Out there, we’re walking right out of summer into fall. The landscape’s changing. The air feels and smells different. The sun’s giving way to a bit of a chill. There’s apples on trees and a few leaves coloring. Every sense tells me: Fall’s coming.

Life out there on the road is uncomplicated and the breathing is easier. A gentle way to end whatever kind of day came before. Maybe plan the weekend. Ask a few questions. Remember some whens. Share the road, ideas, and uninterrupted time.

It’s hard to tell if we walk to hang on or if we’re learning to let go, out of one season and into the next. Or maybe we want a roadside view to each and every change, gathering a few more memories to store away before the snow flies. Side by each. Walking with the one I love.

do or dream

A few minutes shy of six this morning, I left the early Sunday comfort of home to greet the sunrise. I must’ve looked a character in gym shorts, my husband’s oversized t-shirt, plum-colored windbreaker, and tall, black rubber boots. I cared not. Clutching my keys and my camera, my new tripod, my wallet, and glasses, I left a quick note for my still-sleeping husband. My heart was as full as my hands and off I went.

For me, there’s such a dichotomy between dreaming and doing. I’ve oodles of dreams and years’ worth of intentions. What I don’t have – often – is the daring to do. Or the time. Or the energy. Or the opportunity. Whether one or all of the above, the point is dreams remain dormant until and when I decide to do, to act, to move, to create, to dare.

Dreaming isn’t doing, and many days, all I do … is dream.

But back to the sunrise and me in all my sartorial glory. And while I didn’t much care what I looked like to whomsoever passed me by at 5:59 this morning, I felt a bit vulnerable out there in the wide, open world of what if. Vulnerability or not. I did it anyway.

I’ve often imagined a dawn cresting over the farm down the road. Imagined the sky. Purpling and pinking. Imagined the solitary trees shadowed against the brightening sky. I imagined the horses off in the distance, the greening slope of the hill, and the brown barn. Imagined myself right there, experiencing it all. Photographing it all. I’ve dreamed it. And today … done it.

No matter I chose the wrong camera lens. No matter I couldn’t quite find the angle I wanted. No matter the car idling and blinking roadside (or my anxiety about leaving it there as I wandered away with my camera.) No matter the on-the-fly tripod learning curve. No matter my appearance or as yet unbrushed teeth. No matter my vulnerability. What mattered most was me. Out and about in my little town, chasing a dream and the sunrise.

Doing.

present participles

recent present participle verbs at home, work, and play

  • paddling
  • walking
  • Vermonting
  • (weight) lifting
  • eating (more intentionally)
  • meditating
  • granddaughtering
  • baking
  • puttering
  • writing
  • paring (down our possessions)
  • meeting
  • (re) connecting
  • painting
  • assembling
  • organizing
  • planning
  • cleaning
  • thinking
  • imagining
  • (jigsaw) puzzling
  • playing (cribbage)
  • worry beading
  • praying
  • hoping
  • thriving

And what are you up to?