Category Archives: Stories

writer’s block.

I haven’t written since May.  You all know that, of course – just look at the date of the last post.  I’m sitting here at the Bangor Public Library – it’s quiet, i’m surrounded by books, the sun shines in the big old windows behind me and I have to type in my shadow.  But I’m just not quite sure what to say.

Out of desperation I began going through my old musings stowed away in various files on this laptop, knowing that I’ve started dozens of pieces and posts that died a quick death, thinking perhaps I could finish something I’d started. And I find this piece that I wrote, over a year ago, before poundsweet.com, before I moved to Maine, before I spent a season working on a farm. It seems I abandoned it, but re-reading it now, it’s better than anything I’ve got in my brain.  And so I’ll post it, unedited, because it’s still true, and hope that it will inspire me to get crackin’.

Ellms’ Farm
I’ve spent the past few years getting to know farmers, working in their fields, traveling around and asking questions, writing stories, reading books, getting as intimately involved as I could, short of committing myself to one farm and one project. I travel around like a bit of a hobo, learning about yeoman plows here, heritage cattle breeds there, draft horses here. One morning I’m kneading dough for sourdough bread, another I’m learning to slaughter chickens. I’m picking up bits of knowledge, but in preparation for what? Continue reading

a chicken in every pie.

(written early March)

I’ve always been fascinated by what we remember from childhood – which little snippets of life our brains hang onto for years and years.  Often, they are small and seemingly insignificant. I don’t remember my first day of school, but I remember learning the “16 Counties” song in kindergarten.  I don’t remember meeting my baby sister for the first time, but I remember being allowed to pick out a toy before we went to the hospital (a travel barbie with suitcase and pink blazer). I don’t remember much about the meals my family shared, but I remember, quite vividly, the chicken pies that my grandfather brought to camp throughout the summers of my childhood.

For non-Mainers, a “camp” is what you know as a “cottage”, or “lake house”, and a chicken pie is a chicken pot pie.   My extended family shares a camp on Lake Wassokeag, in the small Maine town of Dexter where my mother and her three sisters grew up. I spent my summers on the shores of that lake – a hazy blur of swimming, catching crawfish, shucking corn, and shelling peas. We would have made and eaten countless meals at camp, but it’s the chicken pies that stand out in my mind with perfect clarity. Rich and delicious with a flaky crust, they, along with soft serve vanilla ice cream cones with chocolate jimmies, were the stuff my summers were made of.
Continue reading