1940s Archive

Coast Calendar

Originally Published May 1947

Comes in west winds and a sky snowing lambs. The empty barn echoes, but the bay bobs with boats. Grandma's rocker and Grandma are put out on the south side-porch. The world greens in a night, and the cows keep their sweet mouths to the ground all day long. There are snowdrifts in deep dingles and among thick spruces, but there are bluets frosting all other ground. Pussy-paws rise in the pasture, and the mullein pushes out woolen new leaves. The heron arrives from Florida and walks the cove by golden moonlight, thoughtfully, as becomes a much-traveled person. Mummie-chubs crowd the pools, and the small boy smells to high heaven of fish in all his breeches' pockets. Marbles and hoops roll out on the earth now. But the big boy gives his young brother his best glass alley and goes in his boat after cunners.

Grandpa hears the first cuckoo and sheds his inner trousers at last. Hepaticas star the hills under leafless trees, the dogtooth violet hangs the damp valleys with golden bells.

The dinner of the month is dandelions. The small boy digs them, going on all fours with the patches on his hindquarters spread to the sun, stabbing them up with his silver case knife. He brings home a pailful of green octopuses and has to spend an hour washing the grit from them in the tub by the well. His mother boils them two solid hours, with a whole section of last year's pig salting and savoring them at the heart of the old ringed iron kettle.

Anemones come out in the woods like drops of winter, and they tremble on the faintest breeze. The fish of the month is cod, the reach boat comes home from sea low with them, but the lobsters keep the man busy at each ebb of the tide. He goes from buoy to buoy, and the young son gets bitten deep by a crab.

The yellow of dandelions burns up like a light on the sky. The girls come home with baskets of wood violets. The young man goes now every evening in his boat to the island of the braids, and Grandma dreams of white and a wedding. The old mare brings a handsome colt, all legs, home from the pasture, and the small boy discovers, by holding a dandelion to her dimpled chin, that the molasses girl likes butter as much as he does. The columbine hangs her red, gold-lined bells on the cliff too high for the children to reach. The flowers come too fast to keep track of. The shadbush lights the fir woods up like snow, the rhodoras fill the evening swamp with purple smoke. Little boys throw their voices back in their throats and yodel, and other small boys, two farms and a bay away, hear them and answer their spring cry.

One night there is an explosion in all the trees, and people wake up in the morning to a world all new leaves. Goodby, goose grease and camphor bags! The small boy flings off his shoes and runs barefoot to school. The bees swarm.

Subscribe to Gourmet