Maine Day 8: Blueberry Mud Pie
This day started simply and ended complicatedly.
In the morning, we set out to pick blueberries on the side of the road. And we did.
We did not, however, make it home with many.
The children played in the yard and ate ice cream, and that was, mostly, lunch. I know. I'm terrible. But really, how am I going to convince them to eat broccoli on a hot day after a morning full of blueberries?
In the nook in the lake in front of Steve & Judy's cabin on Brandy Pond, there is a special way that the water and the waves and the Earth come together, and where you might expect sand or even a mess of water weeds, there is nothing but clear water and the softest, cleanest clay you have ever sifted through your fingers. It feels better than any spa treatment or mud I have ever felt. And because it's so clean and so fine, you can mold it just like any other clay, but also make impressions in it that are as fine as feathers. It's perfect for handprint-making. And so we had. Only problem is, the best place for doing so is atop the rock wall at the edge of the lake there, where it abuts the small yard (almost the house itself). And once you cement this fine clay onto the rock wall, it is not coming off. We had left our creations there for a day or so to let them dry in the warm sun. But the next day we were to leave, so this afternoon we took Judy's spatulas to the creations to pry them from the rock wall. Cannon's "groom" doll he made crumbled. I showed him that an arm broke off while I held the rest together. He was pretty upset just seeing the arm off, so I didn't have the heart to tell him actually all the pieces were broken off and that I was just holding them together. He was playing happily in the water, so I casually convinced him with assumptive language that "That was Fun and Now It's Done" and so on and so forth. And I don't even know what Gracy made (God bless her heart, she did not inherit the artistic gene). But whatever it was was equally pulverized by spatula attempts, namely her own. That left just the baby's, and I did not want to destroy Eloise's baby handprint made during such a lovely afternoon of playing in the warm water with her. But alas, I too grew frustrated and after a good twenty minutes of chipping away, chipped a bit too hard and cracked it. I stole away the pieces, but, still having my hands full with the girls running around the rock wall and the water and various other hazards, realized I needed to hide the pieces behind the tree to free my hands again.
Judy had given me a foil pie pan to save little creations to take home, so I wanted to re-do handprints, this time in the pie pan so I could just pop them out or cut off the foil once they dried. But it was too late. Grace had absconded with the pie pan and was baking mud pies. I really wanted the handprints. And she equally wanted to make a mud pie. And to take it home.
Who am I to say no? If you can't bake a mud pie when you're five at the lake and convince your mother to bring it home, well, then, when can you? All I can do is photograph. So I did. Her, her determination, her independence, her victory. Her five-ness.
Just as I'd stayed up late the night we arrived to move everyone in, so too was I up late packing everyone. (Geoff was not without responsibility; he always wakes first and feeds the children while I sleep in. It's a good compromise.) As I was packing that night, I remembered the handprint pieces, and it was just beginning to rain. I knew I'd better retrieve what was left. As I made my way across the field in the dark to the lake, the sky above me glittered with stars, smeared with thin rain clouds, and every edge of the sky was pinned pack with diamonds to the very edge of the treeline.
The following day we backed out of the gravel-dirt-grass-pine-needley yard and waved goodbye to The Wigwam. In the pocket door of the van were little pieces of baby handprint clay. And underneath my seat, a still-wet mud pie.
I keep thinking I'll re-wet this clay and make handprints with all three children, but the truth is, it's now months later, the weather has turned cool again, and it's still here on my desk beside me as I type. I think the real impression made here was on Grace, that she can be herself and leave her own mark on the world. And as for me, well, pieces of childhood are really all that are left for us in the end. And pieces of our maturity are what the children take with them in exchange. Growing up and watching your children grow up is being in that portion of a mosaic where two colors blend. It's all part of the larger picture of our lives, a never-ending mosaic mural across time.