Hi mom. As I write, your recipe for Mississippi Mud Cake is baking at 275 degrees in a pan dusted with cocoa. I remember when we found the recipe from your mother's file and you showed me how to make it.

Now, I make one every year when the giant summer magazine is due. It's coming out in tomorrow's paper, May 9, and I have three months of calendar events in my head.

If you were here for Mother's Day, we could take a wildflower walk at Pleasant Valley, where marsh marigolds grow thickly around the beaver ponds, or at Bartholomew's Cobble -- we still have hemlock trees here.

I miss the ones that used to grow all through the woods at the end of our street, when you would take me looking for dog-tooth violets and hepatica. You told me last weekend that my first word came from looking at the painted circles on the trees to mark the trails.

We could make a picnic with your homemade bread (I know that recipe by heart) and farm cheese from the co-op or Cricket Creek -- we could visit the calves there -- or stop at the Blue Benn for turkey croquettes. It's too early for the tree peonies at Naumkeag or at Hildene, which I know you want to see in bloom, but I'll tell you what we can do. Come up with me to Manchester and we'll stop at Northshire Books. It's never a vacation in our family without a bookstore.

We'll check out the mysteries and the stories of local American Indians.


Advertisement

Maybe we can lobby them and David McAllister's family to publish his collected essays in some form beyond those wonderful essays from the Monterey News -- the Stockbridge Library has them. When you come with me to Naumkeag, on the way I'll show you the collection. I've rarely found an account of what life was like here among the Mohicans that felt so solidly real -- sheets of birch bark as large as plywood, names of berries, winter games and music and stone sweat lodges.

You'd like Barbara Allen at the Stockbridge archives. She can show us the accounts of Dr. Partridge, who cared for Mohican families in the Stockbridge mission. She's like you that way: She knows her town inside out and she's good at people and links and the quiet everyday workings of people's lives.

She once spent a whole morning with me finding out when chocolate first came to the Berkshires.