#AtoZChallenge | O is for the Ocean and the pull of a lifetime of memories.

The memories of my life are so in step with the rhythm of the ocean that the thought of living anyplace where I couldn’t get to the coast within an hour or two makes me anxious.

My grandparents lived at the beach. My grandmother especially loved the water. It’s one of the reasons my grandfather choose to build their home next to the ocean. The salt air is good for the soul. Maine waters are chilly even in the warmest of summer days but my grandmother was undeterred and continued to swim in the ocean every summer until her health waned. She was happy at the ocean.

My mother spent her school years “in town” and not at the beach. Her grandmother and aunt lived there during those years. They were still living there when I arrived on the scene. My only memories of my visits to the house during those years were of the disturbingly vivid portrait of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns as blood streamed down his face. It hung prominently in their living room. It made an impression on me.

Eventually my grandparents moved back to their home at the beach.

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The joy of spending a summer evening at the drive-in.

Everyone of a certain age has their “bouncing around the back” of a station wagon story. Usually one that entails fake wood siding, and sibling squabbles that rival those of Cain and Abel. I’m sure I have a few myself, but the reality is that my memory just isn’t that good. I keep only about five to ten years back in active usage, another ten are sometimes brought up for the occasional recollection, and the rest are more vague. What I have instead are moments in time, and composites of things that probably happened again and again but have been entwined into one memory.

That’s how it is with the drive-in for me. It was one of our regular family outings when I was young, and the only thing I still associate with station wagons.

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#atozchallenge | Q is for Clam Digging for Quahogs

Having recently finished a post on blueberry picking with my grandmother, it got me a bit nostalgic. It brought back memories of another food foraging experience from my youth. My dad’s side of the family spent many summer days along the Maine coast clam digging for quahogs or hen clams.

I was lucky growing up. My mother’s parents lived next to the ocean so I spent my summers at the beach. Their home became a meeting spot for family members some of whom came for sunbathing and for others who came for clam digging.

While I was mainly a spectator, I did try clam digging a little bit as I got older, but I didn’t have the same knack for it as my Grandmother, Dad and Uncle. They were talented and could harvest clams like crazy. I was lucky if I walked away with more than ten. I guess those clam digging genes skip a generation.

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Maine Blueberries

#atozchallenge | B is for Blueberry Picking with Mémère Rose

Memere RoseMy grandmother was unflappable. Mémère could fall asleep in a room full of chaos. Nothing ever seemed to bother her. She had no hesitation taking her young granddaughter into the deep Maine woods to go blueberry picking, even though her granddaughter had a life threatening allergy to bees. Clearly she was right, because no catastrophe ever occurred but rather just wonderful memories eating handfuls of blueberries right from the bushes.

I remember many outings, where we would walk deep into the Maine woods to find the best blueberry bushes to pick from during blueberry season. These were in the days before the evolution of pick-your-own farms. This was old school. She knew where the blueberries were and had mad skills picking them.

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Alex Pizza

#atozchallenge | A is for Pizza by Alex

All couples have their differences, but one of the biggest strains on my marriage was when my husband admitted that he didn’t like Alex Pizza. I’m not sure I’ve fully accepted it, and on rare occasion he’ll humor me and join me for a pie, although usually he’ll mumble a few sarcastic comments and skip the pizza. And, since the menu has only one option, Greek-style pizza, there’s not a lot of other choices for him.

Fortunately, I have a long list of family and friends who are willing to accompany me to Alex Pizza. It’s usually the first stop we make when friends return home for a visit. Just last month, my girlfriend, who had flown in from Seattle, and I stopped by Alex for lunch on the way home from the airport. I had eaten a large brunch only an hour earlier, but was happy to keep her company while she enjoyed her pizza. Of course, once we stopped in, hungry or not, I ordered a pizza anyway. I did refrain from eating the whole pie which at least proves I showed some restraint. But, what would you expect? It’s Alex Pizza!

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