Cheerful from promises of summer

Posted Jan. 15, 2010, at 5:29 p.m.

This January morning in Maine, the insides of some seven windows are covered with ice, and yet, sitting here in the room I like to call my library, my right cheek seems threatened with sunburn, as the morning light pours onto me through one of my skylights. My home in Maine is living up to the promise I recognized the first time I walked into it, bringing me sunshine rivaling that of summer even in the heart of winter.

Even the view outside my window, obscured as it is with the glisten of ice melting on the panes, contains summer’s promise realized. A pair of cardinals flits cautiously to the bird feeders, sheltered by the canes of rosa rugosa, bare but for some old rose hips. The birds speed away from the feeders to the beach plum bush, which only bore fruit worth speaking about once in my years here, but which continues to give shape to the garden and perches to the birds when winter’s here.

My breakfast today, too, depended upon summer’s promise realized in mid-January. While I cooked a small pot of oatmeal this morning, I placed a fistful of blueberries in the bottom of the waiting bowl. Once the oatmeal was soft and piping hot, I ladled it into the dish, and then, after adding a bit of maple syrup into the mix, I stirred my breakfast until the blueberries were dispersed throughout.

As I sat down to eat this quintessential Maine meal, I remembered that the instructions for preparing it were given to me by a Finnish woman bent over in the blueberry barrens on Beech Hill Preserve. As she and her friend picked gallons of berries at record speed, she told me that a fistful of blueberries daily would bring me good health all winter long. If I were to encounter that woman today, I would tell her, “There’s something you forgot to say. A fistful of blueberries each day may just keep you cheerful all winter long, too.” And it’s not just the blueberries. In fact, all of the promises of summer, kept in mid-winter, are bound to bring health and happiness, if you only stop to appreciate them.

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