The aroma of blueberry muffins has been following me around for three days. In my car, I thought there was a bakery near by, coming in through the vents. In a different neighborhood the smell still wafted and I reasoned that I was picking up a slow drip of pine sap from the cutting of Devyn's yule tree that sits over my defroster vent. Walking home in the heavy late winter snow, I still could detect the smell of freshly baked blueberry muffins. It's in my apartment too. I have not baked blueberry muffins ever, let alone recently enough to be carrying the smell of them around with me.
Blueberries always remind me of the mid-summer time in the U.P. We could gather enough to fill multiple 5 gallon ice cream tubs if we had the greed and patience to do so. The wide tracts of land clear cut by the paper mills were left with nothing but sandy soil and hip high jack pines. Those tundra-like swaths were prime blueberry zones. They would just fall off their branches in clumps of threes and fours into your palm. They grew wild, juicy, and chemical free. They were best straight from the bush to your mouth, their meats warmed by the July sun.
Jessica would cook blueberry pies from scratch without a recipe as if she were someone's Nana. We'd pick berries just for her pies which she'd make so pretty, with cuts in the top crust and sprinkled with a bit of raw sugar. Her crusts made all the difference. They were buttery, flaky, and full of her big green eyed love.
The summer before Jessica died she lived by herself for the first time. She painted murals on the walls of her cleanly scented bedroom. She built collages of places and people that captured her interest from old magazines salvaged from St. Vinny's bag sales on her living room wall. She cooked meals for me almost every week and fed me any time I was hungry. I would bring her bags of berries for pie, mix cds for relaxation, and other surprises.
She had to go out of town one day, but told me she'd baked a pie and saved me some. She said her door would be unlocked, the doors in the U.P. usually are, and to come over any time that weekend to get the pie. In I went to her peaceful home to find two pieces of thick blueberry pie wrapped on a plate on the table with note reminding me to enjoy. I left her a note of thankful poetry and walked the pie to my boyfriend's house to share. We liked to eat blueberry pie with ice cream while drinking cold beer.