On the fourth day of each month, or sometimes on the sixth, I bake a pie.
Coring apples, I contemplate what these 30 days have given me. Peeling away the skins, I leave behind what is no longer needed. Thin slices of joy and heartache, I toss them in a bowl with sugar and lemon juice and wonder who might receive this simple gesture. Who do I know that needs a bit of kindness or a nice surprise? Who’s shown up and left my life a little sweeter? This process makes me calm and smiley.
The recipe I know by heart, but the spices change a bit with every person, every pie. I roll out the dough and press it into the waiting pan, an empty space to be filled. I fill the raw and waiting crust with the gooey mixture, topping it with pats of butter. As I lay the top crust over the mound of glistening fruit and pinch the edges together, all the love I have is sealed inside; the penance of Eve. I run a paring knife across the arch to gently slit the skin and brush on heavy cream. Then into the oven goes the Pie of Love and I wait for the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, and lemony apples to fill my home and bring the memory of my brother’s face. One of the few things he asked of me while he was on this earth was, “Hey Trace, when are you gonna make me one of your pies?” Now. Now I bake your favorite dish with all the love I can, and I deliver it to grateful friends, to family and neighbors, to lovers…haven’t given one to a stranger yet, perhaps because I want the pie tin back, but I probably should.
July will be my final pie, at least my final apple pie, as the year of grief comes to a close. But I might make pecan, I make a wicked chocolate pecan.
Thanks, Steve, for showing me so much about the simplicity of love. As you would say “It’s been a slice”.