We spent three glorious weeks in Maine this summer. The warm days, gentle sunshine, and cool nights made me miss living among the pines and rocky shores of New England. Maine is the place I was born, and it remains the home of my heart – no matter where my body wanders.
I was thrilled to spend my birthday in one of my favorite places on Earth, surrounded by family. My thirty-sixth year started off with a morning trip to our family friend’s farm for strawberry picking.
Look. At. Those. Berries.
I can remember every exceptional berry I’ve had in my life. It’s a particular set of memories I choose to cherish and collect. Like Cam Jansen, I close my eyes and take a snapshot of the flavor, the texture, the perfect moment in time in which I bit a perfect berry. It happened for the first time in France, then again in Italy, then once more last spring here in Texas.
The universe provided an entire field full of magnificent berries as my birthday present this year. Seriously. Mother Nature outdid herself with this one.
The kiddos were stuffed in minutes – deliriously happy with red juice running down their chins and squishing through their fingers. I’d say it doesn’t get better than this, but we actually had a clam bake back at the lake later that day. So in this case, it really DID get better.
We made the short drive from our family’s lakeside spot in Maine (The same one we’ve been at for four generations now. How cool is that?) to Levant, Maine, to visit Treworgy Orchards. This family owned farm has been around since the early eighties. I remember visiting as a kid when their farm and orchard were just getting started.
Mama and Papa Treworgy (Mr. and Mrs. to my sisters and I) are two of my parents oldest mutual friends. We haven’t seen them very much in the last decade (it was a busy one for my family) but I remember them being creative, industrious, and very kind. It was a wonderful thing to see them again and walk away with the very same impression. They are good folks, those Treworgy’s.
Back when I was a kid the farm seemed smaller. Besides the apple trees, there were just a few sheep and horses hanging around, and a little swimming hole where us kids would splash and play. The Treworgy family has grown over the years – and with it the farm. The kids I once ran around with are now grown with children of their own, and the hard work that they, their parents, and their spouses have put into this beautiful place shows in every nook and cranny.
In addition to the apple orchard, the farm now offers pumpkins, cider donuts, and a small petting zoo. There is a little restaurant on site as well – serving up pizza and local Gifford’s Ice Cream (my favorite is called Lobster Tracks). In the fall, the Treworgy’s put together exceptional corn mazes with shapes like dragons and lumberjacks.
But the summer…
The summer belongs to berries. Berries in bright shades of red and blue, bursting with juicy sweet sunshine and dewy mornings. The joy that comes with devouring a basket full of ripe, locally grown strawberries is so much like the Maine summer itself – remarkably sweet, and fleeting.
For a handful of weeks every year, Maine becomes an utter paradise.
Walks in the woods are rewarded with forests of green ferns, massive boulders, and wild blueberries. The summer sun heats the chilly air and water just enough to make swimming feel like flying. Everything around you becomes lush and soft – like nature has rolled out a fluffy velvet carpet, inviting you to come outside and relax.
Actually, that last part might just be the moss. Gosh, I love moss.
By the next day, the berries you plucked at the farm will start to soften and sour. The day after that you’ll need to slice up any leftovers to make jam or shortcake. The life span of a perfect berry is short, even shorter than the blissful season in which it’s grown.
May every berry you pick be enjoyed thoroughly. May every remarkable moment you experience be treasured in your heart. There seem to be so few in this life, but if we’re lucky, the ones we are blessed with are sweet enough to make all the colder, darker days worthwhile.