Years ago, when I taught fourth grade in Maine, I welcomed the cold, brittle days of winter. When recess ended, the children scrambled back into the classroom, their cheeks red with windburn, and after they’d flung hats and coats into lockers they settled at their desks, and I’d read to them while they quieted, like […]
By Mel Allen
Jan 02 2018
Years ago, when I taught fourth grade in Maine, I welcomed the cold, brittle days of winter. When recess ended, the children scrambled back into the classroom, their cheeks red with windburn, and after they’d flung hats and coats into lockers they settled at their desks, and I’d read to them while they quieted, like embers. It was as though they had entered a cozy cocoon. I think many of us were once those children—playing outside at a fever pitch, not caring what the thermometer said, and then coming inside hours later to thaw by the fire or with a mug of steaming chocolate.
In planning this issue, we wanted to bring to its pages the dueling elements of winter: the exhilaration of bundling up to play outdoors and also the satisfying warmth that greets you when you step back inside. Rowan Jacobsen feels like Hans Brinker, for instance, as he glides down the longest ice skating trail in the country [“‘Wild Skating’ on Lake Morey”]. And few New Englanders know more about trekking into the snow-covered wilderness than Maine dogsled pro Polly Mahoney [“The Big Question”].
But maybe we are growing a tad softer with age, because we kept coming back to the notion of comfort. And, of course, we began with food. In “The Best Comfort Foods in New England,” Yankee food editor Amy Traverso reveals her favorite cold-weather treats, including the chocolate sea salt doughnut on our cover that may well set the standard for all future doughnuts in your life. “The Coziest Inn in the World” lets us indulge in a little true-life whimsy: Guided by Kim Knox Beckius’s deep knowledge of New England inns and B&Bs, we design our dream getaway, from fireplaced parlor to gourmet breakfast served on a quilt-covered bed. And when you rouse yourself to leave this inn of all inns, “Bars Worth Toasting” offers some suggestions for warm-ups of a different sort.
I have no doubt that when you pore over “The Last of the Hill Farms,” you’ll see how a photographer’s art has bestowed a certain immortality on the Vermonters who opened their lives to his camera. These are the same kinds of country people, as it happens, who came alive in Edie Clark’s writings over the years. As I mentioned in this space last issue, health problems have made it impossible for Edie to continue her column at Yankee. “Leaving Mary’s Farm” invites her loyal readers to share in a poignant farewell.
I wish we had space to excerpt all the hundreds of notes and cards (many handmade) that have arrived at our office for Edie, who lights up when she reads them. Here is one: “What she has shared with readers has mattered deeply and has touched our hearts by their simple truths. Her writing warmed us on the coldest day—even here in Florida, where the coldness felt in one’s heart and soul may have had nothing to do with weather at all…. Edie and her homestead will remain lovingly and enduringly tucked away in our hearts. She is a New England treasure.”
And one more: “Dear Edie, I have been amazed at your spunk and can-do attitude. And when I encounter a task that I think I won’t be able to handle, I always think, ‘Is this how Edie would handle this?’ You are a wonder and an inspiration.”
I cannot imagine a warmer readership anywhere. Thanks for that, from all of us.