” We must have pie. Stress can’t exist in the presence of pie.”

David Mamet, Boston Marriage

I close the book. Summer rain falls. A breeze slips through the screen on the open door. Autumn is a patient friend. One who waits for leaves to fly. A resident squirrel, cheeks full with acorns, scoots between the tall evergreen and fence. The world’s metronome taps a steady beat.

Some things remain uncertain, even in their certainty. I miss my mother. She waits for the seasons to turn and the pandemic to leave.

“It will leave.”

Her voice sounds less certain, more guarded.

“I don’t know. The world’s a mess,” she says.

These are not the words I wish to hear. I want her to rally, offer up sage advice, to have an answer.

“Hold to hope, Mom. The world is changing, perhaps, for the better.”

The world is slowing down.

Every sunrise, hope returns. Built to heal, I find comfort in words, friends, mornings and increasingly, time spent in the kitchen. There is something sacred about standing in silence, in front of a stove, while flipping through the pages of a cookbook. If I can’t help you, I can nourish you.

I will bake a pie. Pie is a reminder of a simpler, slower time. The act of baking something as lovely as pie, soothes.

Pie is a memory.

‘Julie London’ croons from the speaker. My mother hums ‘Black Coffee,’ off- key. She stands in the kitchen, notices the large mixing bowl, her rolling pin, the one I kept. Flour dusts the floor. Pie is messy. Fruit stains like a bruise. She adjusts her apron.

I watch her turn. She pours herself a cup of Joe from the espresso machine. Tucking a lock of hair behind one ear, she pivots and smiles. “A looker,” with her symmetrical features, fairy- tale widow’s peak, a grid mark leading to a crown of raven hair. Red lips. She favoured red lipstick.

I remember. Standing in the doorway of the tiny bathroom, I’d watch as she opened the tube and etched colour to her lips.

She had said, ” The trick is to blot with Kleenex.”

As children, we’d find ruby lip stained tissues carelessly left upon the bathroom counter, accidentally dropped onto the floor or peeking from her opened purse. Sometimes, I would scoop one up like a specimen, tuck it into a book, all to preserve a tangible piece of her.

Those days, I’d sit at the table and exchange knowing glances with my sister. Our mother’s style is now lost, other era, a nod to a fancier time where dresses ruled the kitchen and sling backs waited at the front door. Her ‘French look’ and clothing cut from Vogue, tailored by Singer, was soon to be another lost art. We thought her beautiful.

I watch as she lifts a teaspoon from the drawer and samples the filling. She closes her eyes, pleased.

Turning around, she has gone.

It’s certain. The world spins, seasons change, people come and go. What’s new is old. Some people enter our lives to teach us. Others, so precious we never forget their presence, and then there is pie.

Once considered old fashioned, pies are having a moment. Boutique bakeries offer pies “to go” because “made from scratch” pies are thieves of time. There are steps to follow: use cold butter, cut it into the flour (use two knives). Slightly beat the eggs. Add sugar by the teaspoon. Squeeze the lemon. There is timing in the mix. Chill the dough. There are tools to assemble. Find a four inch cutter. Shhh. I use a marimekko sugar bowl. Find a pastry brush (a small, clean paint brush does the trick). Prep the fruit.

As children, we picked our fruit from backyard trees. Sometimes apple, other times, pear or plum and once in awhile, at the end of a particularly long school day, we’d arrive home and spy a freshly baked pie on the counter. Cinnamon whispered stories of far away lands.

Our family rarely ate pie. When the spirit moved our mother to make a pie (and it was usually in autumn), she’d save the left over pastry bits, kneading and patting the dough to form a ball. If she was short of filling, she’d substitute jam.

I sense my mother’s return.

Gently, she rolls the dough out onto the counter. Dipping a spoon into the saucepan, she tops each round with filling. A brush stroke dips into a saucer of milk, coats the edges of pastry. Overlapping and pressing, she lifts a fork, touching the tines to the dough. With a sharp knife she fashions a top cut.

“Hand Pies.” The semilunar fit was perfect for our small hands. Silently, we’d nibble along the pressed edge, allowing crumbs to fall into a dish of vanilla ice cream, every bite of steamed fruit, richer, tastier. In this moment, we understood. Mom had loved us enough to create a magical delight at the sweet end of the scale.

I place three Hand Pies into a tin. For her.

A text appears.

You bake pies?

I smile. Say it like it’s a bad thing.

You can’t.

Quote: David Mamet: Boston Marriage

COVID19 Moment

she bakes pies

Be Kind

There is nothing as beautiful as kindness. Little actions, big shifts. A split second smile. An incidental text. A hand reaching out to take another. Sacrifice.

Kindness is treasure in ruin, found between layers of pause and possibility. Everyone carries one story. Be there. Listen. Let it bring you to your knees. Imagine a Dove, how its tiny heart pounds as wings take flight. Hope rises from ash.

Life is crazy and Butterflies emerge. There is mercy in mess. Mumbled prayers are answered. Whisper, “Hallelujah.”

Be the light home.

There is nothing as beautiful as kindness.

“Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe”

-Dr. Bonnie Henry

COVID19, Write, Kindness

“Child. Never say, good bye.”

My Grandmother believed “good bye” was an uttered death knell, a cursed spell, a forgetting.

She said, “See you soon.”

I’ll never forget our last Sunday. The year was 1969. The Maple trees, with leaves the colours of sunset, fenced the property. Wind blew off the lake. I wore a leather mini skirt- the height of fashion. My younger sister wore the vest. In the morning, we’d board a flight which would vault us to the east coast and a new life. Neither of us wanted to leave what was familiar: Sunday dinners and family, friendships and home. I placed one hand upon the door handle and paused. My heart pitched.

“Good bye, Grandma.”

“Child. Never say ‘good bye.’ Say, ‘See you soon.’ ”

People give and then they take away. We live, learning to bear their fingerprints, on our hearts. The most painful good byes are the ones left unexplained.

My grandmother never spoke of ‘The Old Country’ and the home she’d left. No one dared speak of the past while in her presence. It was forbidden. She was a woman who had endured that which is unbearable. With grace, she had learned to look straight on, to not stumble.

I’ve never been too good about ‘good bye.’ Even, ‘see ya,’ sticks to my tongue. I keep those I love forever and leave in silence. I hold to hope. Somewhere down the line, we’ll meet again, we’ll be together.

As December blows near, you hear it whisper, “Go. Find the magic.” As the temperature drops, you find yourself choosing people and moments to warm spirit and heart. You wonder if magic truly does exist.

It’s as simple as coffee with a friend, an impromptu gathering, or an hour spent wandering the holiday aisle. It’s soy wax, melted and poured into glass salmon jars. It’s a phone call, or a message that reads, I’m thinking of you. It’s holding your mother’s hand.

She looks at the basket, filled with moss and bulbs, and asks, “When did orchids become so intimidating?”

You smile, knowing, she speaks the truth. Direct and honest, her words make sense. The scale has changed to bigger, more, and most. You wonder, too.

December softens us. We’re captured by nostalgia, pulled deeper into self reflection. Sparkling lights, tree tops stacked outside the hardware store, woodland ornaments, hung from a rack, stir memories: beautiful and sad. We long for that which is simple and true. We wonder.

There’s beauty in sorrow. It’s a shivering soul, asleep on cement, as a stranger tucks a blanket. It’s a late night phone call followed by tears. It’s a sunlit morning, an outside invitation, a rogue stratus cloud. Staged and still, the cloud opens. Snowflakes tumble, soft and raw. You glance up, as cold, warms your cheek. You stand alone and wonder.

In a wordless moment, you’re struck by gentle force. It is a presence, which you can’t explain, an unwavering comfort. You are certain.

It’s ‘Bambi’, watched wide- eyed, as a child. Midnight and a mother. She slumps and straightens. Her fingers feed velvet cloth through a machine, determined, as she forms a dress for her daughter’s doll.

Years later, seated in a wheel chair, she will speak of an exact moment and comment, “All I ever wanted was to be a great mother, to own a dog, and have a home.”

You take her hand. You say she is the best mother and remind her of all the beautiful memories and simple moments you witnessed sacrifice. You understand that love is kind, and speak of lost December’s surprise: father attaching a cedar and candy cane wreath to the front door, the anticipation of gathered family. Minutes later, a Cadillac pulls to the curb. Doors swing wide. The Great Aunts, alight. One plucks a cane from the wreath and winks. Patent heels click. Furs drop. Joy dances through the rooms. Later, two children, dressed in velvet, snuggle in mink. In another room, ‘Julie London’ plays on the stereo. Crystal clinks.

December is an opportunity to dust off the crystal and turn the vinyl. It’s the pause in a busy day, to hold space, for another. It’s the month to remember and reunite. Our mission: collective goodwill and a promise to lift love above hate. It’s the season to resurrect your inner child, to believe the impossible is possible, and to honour wonder.