A very special childhood book in my house was Clarence: The Cranberry Who Couldn’t Bounce. The book is written by Jim Coogan, an author from Cape Cod, who happens to be my mother’s high school best friend’s father! Small world!
I grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts surrounded by cranberry bogs on all sides. When I was in middle school I went on field trips to bogs and stained my clothes with their red juice. My drive to the closest local store is picturesque this time of year; if you look left or right you are met with miles of red bogs.
With the best cranberry-eating holidays in our midst, there isn’t a more perfect time to bring Clarence into your life.
What’s Clarence’s Story?
Clarence is a very enduring story about a cranberry who is different than everyone else. A “good” cranberry is supposed to bounce and a “bad” cranberry doesn’t.
I love the story of Clarence because it can reflect how many people feel in their own lives. We are taught to be a certain way and go to school and have a job and a degree. We are also hardwired to feel that we have to look a certain way, go on diets, and have feverish workout routines just to meet a certain way and fit into society’s mold. You’re thrown into interactions and jobs you don’t want to be a part of and you wish things were different. You are constantly filled to the brim with anxiety, but everything finds a way to work out, just as it does for Clarence.
I also love that Coogan takes us through the cranberry harvesting process. I don’t think that many people know that cranberries grow on vines and the bogs are flooded to harvest them. Most people just think of the red fields that come close to harvest; at other points of the year, the bogs just look like fields!
Here is a sweet video of a cranberry bog manager in Nantucket, no less, reading Clarence’s story!
Cranberries have felt like a part of me since I was a child. When I went to school in New York and told people where I was from, I had some friends that would talk to me endlessly about cranberry bogs. I have always gotten excited to go into a grocery store, grab a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries, and see they were harvested from Middleboro and Lakeville, Mass, my neighboring towns.
Writing about cranberries feels like a right of passage, so I am happy to be able to celebrate them!
Click here to read an article about cookbooks with cranberry sauce recipes just in time for the holidays.