” 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

There is a hush within the edges of time. If one listens, one can feel it.

It is early dawn and I am easy, not required to be anything people think I should be. There are no demands placed upon my time.  Within this pause, I imagine the gift of another day, open to whatever magic it may bring.

Silence is my church. It is where I do my deepest work.  As the stars lean in to listen, I spill my holiest thoughts. Morning shines like a beacon of hope.

I worship the margins of time. There is room to rest as the simplest of moments  begin and turn each day. It is where I find clarity.

 

My sister asked, “Do you remember that morning at the beach?”
 How could I  forget?
A memory of us. Two children lost in fantasy, tiny feet dancing as the ocean kissed the sand. Accidental twins, our small bodies snuggled in white hoodies.
“You took a stick and drew a huge circle,” she said,
I remember.
“I drew a circle to protect us.”
I see her step inside the circle. She is careful not to smudge the rounded edges.
The circle was our make shift island. A sanctuary, both too young to appreciate, paused moments are fleeting. We didn’t know of danger.
The universe knew. Two sprites and a majestic sea. Brave and shivering as the winds blew. A shipwrecked dinghy, marooned on the sand. Their stick, an oar.
It was as if our mere survival depended on circles.
Circles were everywhere throughout our world. We scampered through dense forests, our hard backs kissed by a honeyed sun. When night fell, two wolf pups mapped the stars and howled beneath a buttery moon.
We studied planets. Ever curious, our questions wheeled with ‘whys.’ Never sure, we chased certainty’s tail, passionate in our quest for truth.
We embraced circles. In the 70’s it was mandalas, knotted bandanas about our heads, and bracelets upon our wrists. We drove cars round blocks, cities, and countries, always to circle back home.
We are all circles.  The whorls on our fingertips, the irises of our eyes, our DNA cells, to the egg that gave us life.
 She asked, “Will life break us apart?”
“Never,” I said. ” If we drift apart, we’re returned by centrifugal force and universal law. Our fingers, forever tangled by an invisible thread that binds.”
She reaches for my hand.
Our circle is strong.

Artemis and Sailor

The sky was clear and the moon full.

He whispered, “Love is a powerful drug.”

Artemis blushed.
“Show me an ocean,” she murmured, “ I’ll summon a tide to save your stranded soul.”

His eyes narrowed.

“Show me the moon,” she said.
I’ll pick a star to light your path.”

In that moment he understood how it felt: addicted.

~ Artemis and Sailor

Let’s

The Beach
~medium- pastel
Artist: Magdalene

go

Smelling of campfires and salt air

Where the beaches are littered

With empty bottles of Casa Sauvignon Blanc

Let us recite from worn books

On a bench of driftwood

Follow children to the sea

Dip our toes into water

Speak wild songs

Say anything or nothing

Blink at the sun

Feed seagulls

Toss stones

Fall into silence

Lean into doorways

Wander curio shops

They won’t last forever

 

Come on, let’s go

Leave your necktie on the floor

Miss all of our appointments

Please

Time is passing; the end is near

Fires and floods

Disasters- waiting to swallow us whole

Or are we empty?

Who will miss us?

When all that is left is an image on a photograph, a blurry negative

Hurry up

Before we disappear