Spring officially arrived last month, but in reality it always seems to arrive around Easter when summer clothes appear in the stores, lawns show the first signs of greening up, and the first flowers poke through the ground. Here on the small Maine island where I live and write, we also mark the coming of spring by the arrival of the first summer residents and tourists. It’s still a bit early, but a few people were here for Easter and as the warmer weather arrives, so will more and more families. It’s fun to see the island come alive after a long winter with only about 100 of us slogging it out through the winter months. Stay tuned for more about life on a Maine island during the peak season.
Far away this little island may be from England–in every sense of the word– but there is plenty of interest in the upcoming royal wedding. Although everyone out here is an early riser anyway (lots of fishermen and lobstermen start their days before first light), I expect to see even more lights flickering on in the early hours next Friday. Mine will be among them. Why not? Despite all the sad news in the world, weddings, like spring, signal the hope that comes with new beginnings.
As a lifelong foodie who often writes about food and serves as a judge at various food competitions, I’m often asked about memorable meals. I’ve always been a fan of fresh ingredients–organic where possible–prepared without a lot of unnecessary fuss. I remember a lunch of freshly made yogurt on the Greek island of Mykonos, followed by a bowl of tiny wild strawberries picked from a field in back of the taverna and still warm from the sun. That meal has lingered in my mind as long as many multi-course dinners I’ve eaten in five-star restaurants here and abroad. I’m dreaming today of Panache inthe Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City, one of my all-time favorites. Diners are served elegant fare in the rustic surroundings of a 19th-century marine warehouse, choosing among dishes such as oysters tartare with clementines, venison with a sauce of whatever wild berries are in season, guinea hen with almonds and lovage-scented gravy, white chocolate pannacotta with pistachio cake, or a heavenly lavender creme brulee. It’s a trip to France without crossing the pond. If you have a favorite restaurant anywhere in the world, I hope you’ll share it with me.
It’s April 12 and we still have patches of snow on the ground, but the heavy downpour taking place right now should finally eliminate it. The crocuses are up at last and the tulips are pushing their way through. The long New England winter has been hard on everyone, so it’s good to see some tangible signs of spring. Having just returned from a week in New York City, where daffodils were in full bloom and the stores were full of summer clothes, warm weather can’t come soon enough for me. After the cacophony of the city, it always takes me a few days to readjust to life on my quiet Maine island. It’s like going from a double espresso to chamomile tea.
It’s not quite time for beach reads yet, at least not here in chilly New England where there’s still snow on the ground. But if you want a great book to read now, or something to stash away for vacation, consider a book of essays called Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart available on amazon.com or from any bookstore. The book contains 28 essays (full disclosure: one of them is mine) that will warm your heart, make you laugh, make you cringe, and most of all, make you think. Although I spend my days immersed in words, I was still amazed at the depth and breadth of my colleagues’ writing. I think you’ll like the book, and it makes a great Mother’s (or Father’s) Day gift, hostess present, or selection for your book club. Happy reading!