Saturday night I met with my book club at my friend Bethany’s house. The way our club runs, we meet every 6-7 weeks, and whoever is the host chooses the book to be discussed and prepares a meal. Saturday was also Bethany’s book club, and her husband Jeff treated Bethany (and us!) to a catered dinner which included a fabulous chilled blueberry soup (see recipe below as promised!).
But besides the great meal, my favorite part of the evening was meeting Bethany’s aunt Carole. Carole is a vivacious woman who has frequently travelled and studied abroad (sometimes in a wheelchair), taken yearly vacations alone except for a shopping bag full of books, taught high schoolers and watched some of them grow into poets and some of them felled by disease, and fished at any and all possible opportunity. Carole has frequently influenced Bethany’s reading selections. She had told Bethany about As It Is In Heaven by Niall Williams, as she’s a big fan — she even participated in a workshop with Williams at his home in Ireland earlier this year.
I was sheepish about the fact that I had read so little of the book. Luckily, no one gets huffy about people not finishing the book in this group. And I have several times finished a book after our scheduled meeting. The fact that Carole was absolutely gushing about her experience in Ireland and how fascinating it was to work with Williams and compare the man to his characters really made me feel a little guilty, though. But Carole was completely gracious about our different reactions to (or lack of reading) the book. Her experience teaching high school English has thickened her skin, no doubt.
Her enthusiasm not only encouraged me to finish the book, but also to get back to writing fiction. I’ve been out of touch with literature for too long, having succumbed to the notion that the only writing worth my time was that for which I could project a paycheck in the next few months.
It’s scary — that fiction thing — just like anything else worth doing, I suppose. But I’m feeling more confident about it than I have in the past. So maybe instead of the J-O-B, what I need to do is get myself in front of a blank page to fill it with the stories I really want to write.
Whitney’s Magical Blueberry Soup Recipe
Authors note: Wear something blue or purple because it will get on your clothes and under no circumstances should you use a blender.
Take 4 cups of blueberries- usually the larger container at the store
1 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon or a stick
(substitute with nutmeg)
Bring this to a boil and then let it simmer for about 3 min.
Blend this all together with either a mixer on a low setting or a blender stick
Authors Note: The Whitney prefers the blender stick.
Squeeze 1 tablespoon of real lemon juice
Let this stock cool completely overnight.
Before serving the soup, add 2 cups of 1/2 &1/2 or heavy whipping cream.
Add 1-2 Cups of plain yogurt to taste.
Authors Note: You can also use skim milk or milk if you prefer and non-fat yogurt to make it healthier.
Serve in glasses or a bowl.