Growers who brought their produce to the nearby IGA store also stopped to visit Annie, using her side door to peddle peas, beans, tomatoes, corn and berries. If it was fresh, Annie bought it, and planned her menu around the best of the season.
On damp or cool days, Annie baked, and no summer was complete without at least one blueberry pudding.
Although I think this pudding tastes better cold, I could rarely wait for it to cool off, once Annie removed it from the oven. And truth be told, neither could she.
While this dessert (oh, what the heck, I've had it for breakfast) was always called blueberry pudding, Annie often added raspberries or strawberries. Made no difference: It was still delicious. Annie's use of fresh ingredients gave it a deep, old-fashioned flavor that I relished then and still do today.
In my teenage years, my parents moved from our little Main Street enclave to a similar neighborhood across town, less than a mile from Annie's house. Come late July, it was a thrill for me when Annie summoned me to her house so she could share her blueberry pudding with us. I loved the walk from our house to Annie's: A half block down busy Broadway, turn left at the convent and walk until you cross the tracks by the boiler works, then continue west until you reach the heart of Frenchtown.
Thanks to Annie, I love all manner of blueberry desserts. To me they are the true heart of summer, layered and rich and sweet. And fleeting. Because Annie never used blueberries from a can. Blueberry pudding was only to be savored in late July and August.
I made some last night with raspberries and blueberries. We're on the downward side of summer now: I heard the electric buzz of cicadas last week.