Silent Summer

She was Rachel Carson of the kitchen. Window ledge peppered with driftwood and mussel shells from the cove across the street. Turkey feathers from the backyard. Sprigs of goldenrod in rusty tea tins.

Her cooking was an extension of the great outdoors. The essays she wrote for her monthly food newsletter were embellished with pen-and-ink sketches of starfish and crabapples from our orchard, their dull thud a lullaby for deer at dawn and dusk.

Crockpot applesauce called for precisely eighteen of those very crabapples, as indicated on the cider-splattered recipe card. Her cobbler required blueberries she’d picked each summer. During her vegetarian phase, she made peanut loaf using freshly-grated carrots from the garden. “Better than meatloaf,” she said. It wasn’t.

Her love for the outdoors extended beyond the kitchen; like the spruce-choked woods and saltwater breezes surrounding us, the farmhouse begged that all its rooms be nature-clad. So she draped snakeskins over her collection of King Henry VIII dolls. Looped dried lobster antennae into a chain like the construction paper Christmas garland I made in school, hanging it from the beams of our barn-turned-living-room.

Cleansing the soul of this house fuses our creative spirits while she is still on this earth. And although my mother is not physically here, her aura cradles me with comfort and inspiration.