Light, Gratitude, and Sun Tea

January 15th was the launch of Chestnut Review’s Winter issue, and my piece Light was among its content. Not only was this piece tucked inside its digital pages, but it placed 2nd for flash in its 2022 Stubborn Writers Contest. I’m so excited that not only did this little piece find a home, but the readers and the judge Cathy Ulrich saw something special in it too.

This is one of three original pieces that started around the word harvest. Harvest is a funny word when you take time to think about it, and I did, and do. Glass which appeared in the Los Angeles Review, and Seeds in Great Weather for Media, were two others. Those three pieces were the base of what’s become a much larger project that I love and consumes me just a bit.

Oona, Phoebe, and Ava, these three main characters, have become part of a more extensive network and structure for a fictitious town called Wilda Point. With these three stories as a starting point, I can see a whole coastal Maine community. There are shops and diners and a college. The stories take place at different times, but there’s overlap. How do you not have overlap in a small town?

As I wrote in my statement for Chestnut Review, the idea for Light came from my grandmother making sun tea in the sunny pocket on the landing next to her kitchen. The concept of harnessing the sun to brew tea is just the coolest thing. As I got to high school, her goal transformed to not only making a great glass of iced tea but to make it better than Snapple, which was huge then. I told her hers was perfect, but she loved a project. It was always better than Snapple, but I was down for the taste tests.

In the drawer where she kept silverware, and nutcrackers and pickers for guests to bust into lobsters, and cake knives, she had golden, round, long thin handled spoons with their bowls in a scalloped shape, well, like a scallop. They were iced tea spoons intended to stir sugar particles and lemon into the tea and drink through the straw/handle. She never added sugar to the brewing process because not everyone liked sweetened tea. Her granddaughter (me) was one of those people. I’m not fond of sweetened teas, period. I don’t add honey or sugar, or even milk. Occasionally a little lemon. But I like strong tea that can stand on two feet with no need for a sugar crutch. But for those who wanted it sweet, this meant adding sugar to a cold beverage, and it didn’t blend as well as it does when it’s warm. Hence the spoon/straws.

Anyway, that sun captured in a bottle inspired Light. It’s part of what sparked all the jars stories. I keep going back to this idea and the word harvest as I continue to write these stories. Fingers crossed for more to come.

If you go to Chestnut Review and check out Light, you’ll see I made my very first recording. I had to hide from my kitties in a closet while holding my laptop while I did it. It was a funny experience, and I hope to do it again someday.

Thank you to Chestnut Review and all the fantastic people there. And thank you to the many sets of eyes who have helped shape these stories that I love so much.

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