i remain optimistic ( or is it delusional ) that the affordable large mason jar of sea glass we purchased in machias, maine at parlin’s flowers is 100% legit and not the imposter mass produced tumbled glass that you might find in more touristy areas. according to wikipedia ( SO IT MUST BE TRUE! ) genuine sea glass takes 20-30 years to get its smooth and frosty appearance.
in 1913, my hometown in machias, maine celebrated the 150th(!) anniversary of its founding by gathering the 150 or so town residents for a giant panorama. they’re all dressed up in costumes presumably getting ready for founding days parade/festival. i can spend hours looking at the panorama imagining stories about those in the photograph. there’s at least a half dozen stories just in this shot alone.
it’s strange to think my ancestral relatives are likely somewhere out there in the photo peering back at me ( my ancestors were there at the founding of the town ). maybe even one of them is the kid in middle!
on a trip to my ancestral homeland in machias, maine my mother showed me one of many photos she has been entrusted with that tell the story of her mother’s side of the family which have been handed down from matriarch to matriarch. they are simply incredible.
they were written by a woman named grace who, i believe was a cousin to my grandmother’s mother ( my mother will correct me if i’m wrong ).
this one tells the story of elaie(sp?) fuller berry means who daughter of william berry jr, descendant of william berry who was the a member of founders of portsmouth, new hampshire and newburyport, massachusetts. she was also the direct descendant of benjamin berry who was the first white child born in machias, maine and his father, was one of the “original 16” founders of machias in the 1630s ( i fail at geneology because i can’t quite decipher the relationship between william and benjamin berry ).
william berry came over to the colonies from devonshire with the “mason colony”, led by john mason in 1630 settling in what would become portsmouth. she claims they brought the first cattle to new england and notes that the mason colony “had the contempt of the [massachusetts] colony which said they came to fish and not to pray.”
given my love of taking photos and telling stories, i think i really would have gotten along nicely with grace.
in washington county blueberries are a big deal considering the fact that, at least according to the machias chamber of commerce 85% of the world’s supply of wild blueberries come from the county. so, it’s probably no surprise that the annual wild blueberry festival is also a big deal to the residents since it draws folks from all over to an area that doesn’t enjoy as much tourism as other parts of maine ( i think the population of machias easily triples over the weekend of the festival ).
as you might imagine, the cooking contest is a important part of The Blueberry Festival Tradition and landing the coveted Blue Ribbon is quite an accomplishment.
so, odin and his grandmother decided to enter a pie in the cooking contest and see if maybe, just maybe, they could win a prize. even if they didn’t, everyone would win in the end because we’d all get to eat the remains of the tasty entry.
but first, before any cooking got started, we all went out to watch uncle andrew run in the blueberry 5 mile road race. this is an important element to the story arc because the race got started late which means we got back later than expected which means odin got to making a pie later than expected which means i weas already starting to wonder whether we’d make the deadline for entry into the content ( no fault of uncle andrew’s, of course, who finished the race in fine time. ).
while odin did have a little help making the dough for the crust from scratch, he didn’t need any help rolling it out for a two-crust style pie.
next, meremere puts some finishing touches on the crust while odin prepares the blueberries with sugar and whatnot following a recipe published by the university of maine cooperative extension in the 1970s ( although it’s hard to tell because, oddly, there’s no copyright date on the booklet ). the recipe has won a blue ribbon in the blueberry festival in the past, so hopefully i’m not divulging any important family secrets with this photo ( it’s the recipe entitled blueberry pie II )!
you’ll note, though, that i’m not divulging the crust recipe 🙂
time to pour the blueberries into the pie pan! at this point we were losing sugary blueberries quickly as they would quickly move from the bowl to odin’s mouth.
meremere teaches odin the fine art of joining the lower and upper crusts together which is an important part of the aesthetic of a two-crust pie.
odin spreads a bit of whole milk over the pie crust to help it crispy perfection.
a proper blueberry pie isn’t complete without a generous sample of sugar sprinkled over the fresh milk.
and with that, it’s time for it to go in the oven! but since it’s after 10 a.m. it’s already clear that we’re going to have a tough time meeting the 11 a.m. deadline for entry. d’oh!
about an hour later, the wonderfully aromatic blueberry pie was done cooking! hurray! but it was already 15 minutes after the 11 a.m. deadline! booo!
undeterred, we decideed to walk down the festival judges and see if we could get them to accept a late entry. how could anyone resist odin walking in with a beautiful pie in a wicker basket?
oh noes! by the time we arrived at the blueberry festival it was already 30 minutes past the deadline. the kind woman at the information booth said we were too late and really should have entered the pie at 8 a.m.
but she did say if we really wanted to we could still try and drop off the pie, although she made it clear that there really wasn’t any point since they had already started judging.
and, lo and behold, when we arrived at place to drop off the entries we were met with a rather intimidating sign which said, “Do Not Enter Judging”.
sigh. we had come so far and we snowdeals are not the type to give up easily.
so we paused, took a breath, and odin knocked on the door.
whatever hesitation we had immediately faded away as soon as the door opened and it became instantly clear that the kind ladies responsible for fielding entries were never going to turn down a pie carried in by an adorable six year old with a huge smile.
with the pie officially entered we now had to patiently wait 4 hours when the winning entries were announced. luckily, there was plenty to keep us preoccupied amongst all the vendors and activities at blueberry festival nestled in and around the historic center street congregational church which puts on the festival.
activities like throwing baseballs while waiting for the judges to finish judging.
and shooting baskets…
and tasting tasty treats like organic goodies from hatch knoll farm…
and eating frozen treats while…
…riding on a train…
and watching music on the steps of the historic center street congregational church…
and checking out the maine blackfly breeder’s association exhibit which atttempts to educate folks on the importance of the black fly which is usually thought of a just painful nuisance ( see their proposed legislation )…
and after checking out a raucous group from new york ( unfortunately, i forgot their name ), sponsored by the beehive collective, who performed on the steps of the church…
after all that fun, it was finally really, super duper close to time to announce the winners of the cooking contest. while the organizers prepared for the announcement, i did what i am known to do, and wandered around to the back side of a large billboard to take some pictures of the map showing the distances folks had travelled to come to the festival. all of a sudden, on the other side of the billboard, i could hear my kris and my sister and mother shouting excitedly, “oh my gosh! oh my gosh! oh my gosh!”
i ran around to the other side of the board and couldn’t believe my eyes. before making the announcement over the PA system, someone had just posted the winners in various categories.
holy waaaaaa! OMG! ODIN WON THE BLUEBERRY BAKING CONTEST!.
( note, we entered him in the contest as odin, which is his nickname and eric c snowdeal iv which is his “given” name. almost nobody calls him eric but it’s nice they chose to use his given name since it will be more recognizable to local residents when the results are published in the local paper. )
we ran back to where we had dropped of the pie so odin could pick up his blue ribbon for his award winning two crusted pie. who knows, maybe we’ll look back and recognize this as the start of a storied career in baking.
finally after such a long day of waiting, odin got the chance to taste his award winning creation.
and it was good. really, really good.
perhaps we’ll have to come back next year just to defend his title 🙂
after enjoying and digesting Ye Olde New England Clam Bake, it was time to check out one of the first events of the annual blueberry festival – a puppet show put on by the frog town mountain puppeteers who hail from bar harbor.
“everybody loves pirates” was a fun little show featuring young girl named lucy and her friend, little chucky, who happen upoon a treasure map go on a adventure to find their fortune.
this being downeast maine, the story naturally involves a heroic lobster and his sidekick crab 🙂
odin enjoyed the show but, unfortunately, was too tired to hang out after the show to meet the puppeteers. hi. ho. maybe next time!
time for a good ol’ fashioned new england clam bake! well, not really a clam bake in the stricktest sense since, we gathered in a backyard and not on a beach, but the celebration was certainly in the spirit of a traditional clam bake with lots of family enjoying lots of seafood and stories on a fine new england summer day.
no clam bake is complete without lobsters fresh from the bay!
and, mmmmm, clams steamed to perfection.
no, despite my best attempts, odin is not at all interested in playing with the crustaceans. in fact, he claims to like seafood at all!
adventures in family portraiture. so happy odin’s great grandmother could attend the clam bake and i could get a picture with her, odin and her newest great-grandchild, zachary.
odin and his great grandmother, affectionately known as gigi.
it’s been far too long since i’ve had the chance to get a picture of them together.
i came *this close* to getting a photo "for the ages" with zachary and gigi but zachary had other plans 🙂
25% silliness, indeed.
mmmm. even more perfectly steamed clams.
i just imagine why more folks don’t enjoy a fresh clam dipped in melted butter.
lobsters, steamed to perfection.
i actually prefer clams to lobster, but i’m certainly not going to turn down the tasty crustacean.
odin’s, uh, wants to make sure we know the lobsters are trying to escape.
i don’t know if it makes any difference, but i’m told placing the lobsters "head down" is the most humane method of steaming.
a couple of odin’s cute cousins are kind enough to stop racing about a nanosecond and pose for a photo. thanks!
nope, i’m not going to pass up an opportunity to get another photo of gigi and zachary.
who is this kid who looks far too old to be my baby boy?!
yup, again with gigi and zachary.
fun with toddler portraiture. the ol’ eat-the-fist pose.
zachary strikes a serious, thoughtful pose in the arms of his mother.
teh cuteness! zachary and his mother.
The Dike has always had space for parking, and when i was a kid it was a popular place for folks to sit and pass the time watching cars pass by and the tides come in and out ( and who knows what else after sunset ). in more recent times, it seems that The Dike has become a popular spot on the weekends for the local farmers market and a flea market where all manner of junk, er, treasure gets served from out of the back of parked vehicles ( as an aside, the dike has been in use for 150 years and is a recent source of controversy as the state would like to remove the “flappers” that prevent the tides from going into the middle river which has angered some local residents. )
i was a bit pesimistic that we’d find anything worth keeping, but odin was quite sure i was wrong and after strolling for a bit he found this sign made from “found” wood in harrington, maine that he thought would, rightly, be perfectly perfect for The Girls’ chicken coop!