Of Berries, Babies, and Book Events—A Season of Bounty Revisited

Darcy Scott again with my monthly Maine Crime Writers post. It’s late October as I pen this and we’re in the process of preparing Skater, our sailboat and warm weather home, for its annual haul out in Kittery. Stripping sails; draining water tanks; off-loading domestics; decommissioning the water maker, refrigeration, and other systems makes for a bittersweet, days-long work party that inevitably takes me back to the highlights of a season bursting with warm weather bounty. This year especially so. Bear with me while I revisit a few highpoints…

Sailing the Maine coast for most of the summer as we do—a combination of research for the next in my Island Mystery Series and the serious contemplation of those proverbial belly buttons to aid in said research—we’ve developed a couple indispensible  traditions—one of which is the late August gathering of wild, lowbush blueberries necessary in the production of the renowned “Skater Blueberry Boatcake” (recipe follows). Slap a piece down with some bacon and eggs, pour a second cup of coffee, and man…

Cleaning berries, post-harvest

Our hands-down favorite place to harvest Vaccinium angustifolium is just off Eggemoggin Reach—an enormous blueberry barren located directly opposite the town offices in Brooksville Center. Because we travel by boat, getting to this magical place requires dropping the anchor in sleepy Bucks Harbor and making the three-mile trek west-northwest from the historic, hundred-year-old Bucks Harbor Yacht Club (https://bucksharboryc.org)—pausing as we as hoof the crumbling macadam for a restorative Harbor Bar at the Bucks Harbor Market—this being that locally renowned marriage of graham cracker and vanilla ice cream enrobed in a thick, luxurious coating of dark chocolate. It’s hopeless to resist, so we don’t even try. Thus restored, we continue our quest. And lest you think we pilfer what might otherwise be marketable fruit when we finally climb that last hill to the barren, rest assured we’re careful to pick along the very edge of the road so as not to encroach. No one seems to mind, in any case, based on the number of island waves we receive each season (hands gripping wheel, fingers flipped up). 

The end of the summer season also heralds another kind of bounty—a long string of fall book events, literary festivals and other opportunities to meet readers and network with fellow authors, including this month’s “Murder by the Book” festival which was held at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor. Helluva time. 

Stay with me now, ‘cause I’ve saved the best for last. This year, our annual fall harvest included one of a most personal kind: the birth of our fifth grandkid—a boy with the impressive handle of Felix “Hawk” Rivera Horton—who made a dramatic entrance via c-section on September 17, weighing in at seven pounds, five ounces. The name “Hawk” had everyone scratching their heads until it was explained that during her pregnancy, our daughter-in-law kept noticing a particular hawk perched in various trees quite close to the house and even, as her time approached, alighting boldly on the front deck to stare in the window. She had the sense it was keeping watch over her. No matter how you feel about such things, you have to admit it makes for a great story. And a great moniker.

I figure it’ll be a year or more before we can get that kiddo on the boat and put those kissable little hands to work picking berries. Introduce him to Harbor Bars, maybe, take him along to a signing or two. Oh, the possibilities!

Skater Blueberry Boatcake

Skater Blueberry Boatcake 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Ingredients:  1 cup flour ¾ cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ¼ cup softened butter/margarine 1 egg ½ cup milk 1 cup fresh Maine blueberries (frozen if you absolutely must) Topping: ½ cup sugar mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter/margarine and mix well. Add the egg and milk and beat till smooth. Pour into a greased 9 X 9 pan. Cover with the berries and top the whole thing with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

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