Hitting the ground running

Today, I discovered one of the advantages of a reunion residency: you can immediately settle in and get to work.

This morning, I drafted a new poem about Drury High School and transcribed notes from our inaugural residency on Mark Dion’s The Octagon Room. It may well become the longest poem I have ever written. I finished a first draft which I may offer for critique later in the week, even though I would get teased for using a lot of paper!

The morning was punctuated with some local fun. Jessica and I took a break to shop at the Farmers’ Market where I bought some local goodies. A fun feature was the costumed dogs getting ready for the Dog Parade that was part of the Fall Foliage Festival. We also headed up Main Street to the Fall Foliage craft fair where I picked up a few local craft pieces, including some cards featuring local scenes.

A new feature of the residency for us this year is that a daily meal is provided. We are able to send our lunch orders for the MASS MoCA cafe in advance, so at 12:30 we can all grab the box with our name on it, sit in the cafe, relax, and eat. It was fun to have a chance to chat and listen to the folk tunes that a group of musicians was playing.

After lunch, we returned to the studio to workshop poems. I am in awe of the talent in the room. Our two new poets slipped seamlessly into the group. The discussion was insightful and reached beyond the particular poem at hand into more general craft talk and technique, which I, as a community rather than academically trained poet, find immensely helpful.

We ended just before four o’clock, so I decided to cross the street to attend vigil Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The building is familiar to me because it was my grandmother’s church, although at that time it was St. Anthony of Padua. The homily began with a story about the first weekend of October in 1987. Father Cyr reminded us that there was a huge freak snowstorm that weekend, which immediately brought to my mind my in-laws, who lived near North Adams in Stamford, Vermont. They had come out to visit us that weekend and wound up staying an extra day because a state of emergency had been declared so that they could not travel home. They were both public school educators, but schools were cancelled due to the heavy, wet snow, which broke many trees because they still had their leaves and could not to take the additional weight. The moral of the story was not to personalize unfortunate experiences. A snowstorm is not about you! Instead, as was seen in the Scripture readings of the day, we are called to have patience, to have faith, to gather spiritual strength, and to act for good. Given the animosity that has been on public display in these last months, I took heart that we can still change and act in a positive way. I needed that reassurance.

We spent the evening in various constellations talking and eating and talking and walking and talking some more. I love how our conversations flow so easily through family, travel, our work, change, poets and poetry. And Ezra Pound, whose name I have heard more today than any other day of my life…

 

 

A (Fitbit) walk to the farmers’ market

I wrote recently about my newly acquired Fitbit. I have decided to stick with my low, but attainable, goal; I’d rather make my goal and overachieve than always be struggling to make a high goal and feeling badly when I couldn’t do it most days.

I am getting most of my daily steps in by walking while I telephone my mother in the morning and by taking a walk in the evening with B.

Today, my morning call was short and my evening walk may not happen because I have a poetry meeting, so I decided to walk to the farmers’ market this morning. I wanted to buy some apricots and lettuce. I grabbed a cloth bag and a little purse with just my essentials, as my pocketbook is too heavy to lug around on walks.

As often happens at the farmers’ market, I bought more than I intended to. There weren’t any apricots, but there were lovely prune plums and some early apples, which I knew that T, who will be home for the coming week between her internship and new semester, would enjoy. And I didn’t want to run short of carrots and maybe a fresh tomato would be a good addition to the salad I am planning for dinner tonight. Oh, and look at that lovely selection of summer squashes, picked nice and small the way I like them!

The next thing I knew, I had a hefty amount in my bag to carry home. About halfway there, my Fitbit vibrated to let me know I had reached 5,000 steps. I had to shift my bag from arm to arm as I walked, relying more on my left side as my right arm has been weakened by some orthopedic problems.

When I got home, I weighed my bag and found it was eight pounds.

I want brownie points for the extra calories I burned carrying it home!

(And I will resist the urge to indulge in any actual brownies.)

SNAP

Dear Members of Congress,

I made a trip to our local farmers’ market this morning to choose among the amazing summertime bounty of fruits and vegetables from the NY/PA border region.

I was pleased to see the market so crowded and gratified to see that the vendors accepted SNAP benefit vouchers from shoppers. The people that I saw using vouchers this morning were retirement age women, but I know that there are also younger adults and families in our area who use SNAP benefits, even though household members have jobs.

I call on you to expand food benefits programs such as SNAP and WIC so that everyone in the USA has access to all the food they need to maintain or improve their health.

I also call on you to ensure that employers pay their employees a living wage, so that they don’t need to rely on government programs for basic necessities.

Both are ways to “promote the general welfare” as you are called to do by our Constitution.

Sincerely,
Joanne Corey

Strawberry shortcake

One of the trade-offs I made in spending five weeks visiting my daughter E in Hawai’i was that I was not at home for local strawberry season.  (I can hear you all sarcastically saying “aaaaawwwwww!”)

In our family, strawberry season is one of the most anticipated times of year. We used to go to our favorite local farm to pick them by the bucket, for ourselves and to share with extended family. I will admit the last few years had turned into buying quarts at the farmers’ market, with fewer people at home and a few physical constraints creeping in.

The two to three weeks of the height of strawberry season then turn into an orgy of strawberry eating. Strawberry shortcake was usually the first entrant. Fresh strawberry glacé pie, using a recipe from the farm we used to visit when I was growing up. Strawberry spinach salad. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberries on cereal. Eating strawberries plain or dipped in sugar. Then, there were the strawberry-rhubarb combinations – pie, crisp, and a chilled soup that is one of my favorite dishes ever.

It is all amazingly delicious and special because we seldom eat strawberries unless they are fresh and local.

So I thought I had missed all the strawberries until I went to the farmers’ market this morning. One of the vendors is not a farmer himself, but re-sells produce from various New York and Pennsylvania farms. He must have some suppliers who are a bit further north and still had fresh strawberries. I bought a quart and currently have about half of them washed, sliced, and macerating in the fridge. I baked the shortcakes and will get some whipping cream when I go out on errands this afternoon. The bowl and beater and chilling in the fridge.

I get to surprise B with fresh strawberry shortcake tonight for dessert. I can hardly wait!

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