The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
Last month on Mother’s Day I naturally cast my thoughts back to my own mother, Constance Victoria Swanson, who was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, just before the beginning of World War I. If Mom knew I was writing this column, she’d be so proud. She’d be telling all her friends about me, and sending me ideas every week.
Mom was a woman who believed wholeheartedly in Mother’s Day, and who can blame her? She exchanged her dreams of being a full-time artist for the reality of being a full-time wife and mother, and she expected some recognition of her sacrifice.
Mom was old-fashioned and sentimental. She was also highly practical. This time of year she would have tomato seedlings lined up on every windowsill, vying for space with the geraniums she had over-wintered. She’d have houseplant slips of every description rooting in jars by the sink. She’d be sorting through all the seeds she’d saved from last summer.
When it came to foraging for edible wild food, Mom was right in there with Euell Gibbons. In spring she’d be out in the yard digging up dandelion roots to make dandelion coffee—just for the fun of it, mind you, because it takes buckets of roots to make even a little coffee, and the roots are dirty and twisty and small…try it if you like. And did you know that dandelion sap is supposed to heal warts? We didn’t have warts in our family, but Mom liked to pass on this bit of folklore to other sufferers.
She harvested raspberry leaves for tea. She picked chickweed and tangy sheep sorrel for summer salads. When I was a child I thought everyone drank elderflower blossom champagne, and spread their toast with rosehip jam.
I’m thinking of my mother not just because of Mother’s Day, but because I recently finished a new film, Women of Confederation. The film ends with the narrator proclaiming, “We are standing on the shoulders of our mothers!” I truly am standing on the shoulders of my Mother. Thanks Mom.
I admit that I’m not as fond of dandelions as she was. I have a trowel that is just the right size for digging them up, and I don’t keep the roots.
It would be nice to call Mom today and tell her about the twin black lambs at the neighbor’s farm…about the bright green beach grass that is pushing its way through the old brown hair of the inlet…about the Perennial Sale at the Cove…how the garlic is up, and some arugula seems to have seeded itself…how soft and beautiful the harrowed fields look along the Shore Road…about our first campfire and how good the scrambled eggs tasted with a few fresh chives.
Well, that can’t be, so I’ll have to tell you. Happy Summer!