One of my favorite children’s books is “Blueberries for Sal,” by Robert McCloskey. Whenever I read this story to my children, I find myself lost in the illustrations and have flashbacks to my mother reading the same story to me. Sal picks the blueberries and strays from her mother as she puts more in her mouth than in the pail.

I spent my childhood in Rochester, N.Y., and Maine was something I knew only from McCloskey’s books. In my early 20s, my stepdad took a job in Maine. I visited my mom and stepdad during family holidays and fell in love with the state as I saw the pages of my favorite children’s book come to life. As I walked the rocky coast with my mom, I decided that I, too, would move here.

During one of my first summers in Maine, I canoed the Allagash River with the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club. I’ll never forget the joy of stopping for a break along the river one day and finding wild blueberries that were perfectly ripe. I was a bit perplexed at first, however, because the only blueberries I knew were the larger ones, and so I thought these berries were not fully grown. But then I bit into a few and found the wild blueberries to be juicy and scrumptious, especially after camping for several days along the riverbanks.

A few summers after my trip down the Allagash, my husband and I went to visit my Opa (grandfather) in Bucksport. Opa spent his childhood summers away from the heat of Baltimore, Md., on Mount Desert Island, while his father did research at the Jackson Lab. After my mom and I moved to Maine, he, too, decided to purchase a home in Maine.

I had forgotten about this overnight trip we made to his home until the other day when I pulled out my “Maine Ingredients” cookbook by the Junior League of Portland. There, written next to the recipe for blueberry coffeecake, were the words, “Very good! Opa loved it.” It’s a very simple recipe but delicious with fresh Maine blueberries.

If you have a chance to pick blueberries, see if you can find a metal bucket to gather them. As you put berries in, you, too, can hear the sounds of McCloskey’s story: “Little Sal picked three berries and dropped them in her little tin pail … kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! She picked three more berries, and ate them. Then she picked more berries and dropped one in her pail – kuplunk! And the rest she ate.”

Colleen Lunn Scholer is a freelance writer living in Auburn who likes to cook with her husband and their three young children.

Blueberry coffeecake
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups blueberries
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter. Add eggs and milk and beat until smooth. Pour into greased 13- by 9-inch pan. Top with blueberries. Combine the ½ cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over blueberries. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Serves 12.


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