This weekend we had snow, and on Saturday morning I woke up to hear a heavy dripping sound as the snow melted from the roof. But when I looked outside, I saw bright green grass under the patches of snow. The flowering trees—with their fringes of green and red—looked jaunty, and the gardens were brave and crisp beneath the wet snow. Best of all, to paraphrase the writer Bailey White, “it is quite year for forsythia,” and in almost every yard there is a glorious burst of yellow. By Sunday, the snow was gone, and undaunted, the birds and the fields and the trees and the flowers carried on with spring.
It was also quite a weekend for mice. My husband, Clif, and I spent quite a bit of time running around the house with the blue bucket as we tried, in vain, to scoop the fleeing creatures into it so they could be brought outside. Those mice are quite the speedsters, and Clif and I are certainly not as fast as we once were. But who can blame the mice? With two cats in hot pursuit, the mice were fleeing for their lives. They had no way of knowing what softies Clif and I are and that we had no harmful intentions. Our goal is to have the mice stay outside, and we would like the cats to act mainly as deterrents, which I’m sure they do. But for some reason, our house seems to be irresistible to mice, and in they scamper, primarily in spring and fall. The cats are ready, and they hunt with the diligence of a species that still remembers the time when their ancestors were on their own. The cats finally did catch and kill them, but there was a lot of brouhaha in the process.
Despite the excitement of snow in April and the mice racing through the house, Clif and I still had time to think about our upcoming Earth Week dinners featuring mostly local food. Leaving Clif to the mice, I set out on Saturday to do some shopping and gathering, and I had both bad and good luck. The good luck was that between Harvest Time Natural Foods and Lakeside Orchards, I was able to find quite a lot of Maine food. At Harvest Time I bought whole wheat bread flour, buckwheat, and oats, all grown in Maine. At Lakeside, I bought maple syrup, honey, apples, and, my happiest and most surprising find, fresh—yes, fresh!—greens grown at Lakeside. Oh, happy day!
Then I went to Hannaford, our local big-box grocery store, and that was where bad luck struck. I had planned on focusing on potatoes for this week’s meals—as a side, as a base for a dish with a cheddar cheese sauce, and perhaps even a soup. A month or so ago, I had bought a twenty-pound bag of Maine-grown potatoes, and I blithely assumed I could buy another bag. I was wrong. The produce manager told me that there were no more Maine potatoes, that they were sold out for the year. But they had potatoes from California. California? Mon Dieu! What would my Northern Maine, potato–growing, Franco-American ancestors think? And what would I do without potatoes? True, I have some left in the drawer in my refrigerator, but with all the plans I have this week for potatoes, it is unlikely that they will carry me through. This put me in a rather dark mood, which brightened a little when I found Monterrey Jack cheese from Pineland Farms, made in New Gloucester, Maine. Then I went to the meat section and asked the young man behind the counter if any of the meat came from Maine. He looked at me as though I had just suggested that he come to work wearing his pants on his head. “No,” he managed to reply at last, “none of the meat comes from Maine.” At the fish counter, the news wasn’t much better. The man working there responded to my question with more equanimity, but he only knew the country of origin, not the region. Except, of course, for the clams, mussels, and lobsters. They all came from Maine. Now, Clif and I could spend a happy week eating clams, mussels, and lobsters, but our budget does not really allow for this.
No Maine potatoes. No knowledge of which region the fish came from. I left the store, and my mood was very black indeed.
However, all was not lost. In Manchester, the town adjacent to Winthrop, is a shop called The Lighthouse Wine & Seafood Market, and—miracle of God—when I called to find out about the fish, the young man actually knew where it had come from. “Oh, yes,” he said. “We have haddock and halibut caught off the coast of Maine.” They also carry organic beef from a farm in Leeds, again, not far from where we live. We don’t eat very much meat, but it’s nice to know we can get Maine beef at The Lighthouse.
So Sunday night, we had a mostly Maine dinner. We baked two of our precious Maine potatoes and served them with baked haddock drizzled with browned butter. To go with this, we had a salad with the greens from Lakeside Orchard dressed with a vinaigrette made, in part, with Ray’s mustard, from Down East Maine. And dessert? Apple pie made with Maine apples.
Readers, the meal was quite good. In fact, it would even be good enough for company.
Now, on to the rest of the week. And let’s hope it’s a mouse-free one.