Monday, September 03, 2012
APPLE PIE DAY
Yesterday was Apple Pie Day. Telltale clues were wafting up from the kitchen. Even as I snuggled my head under the covers in a last ditch attempt to be warm enough I could hear the thrump of the rolling pin on the counter, the thump of the flour canister, and the tearing of the parchment. The clink of the measuring cup against the side of the bowl was the final message. “Up you get, Girl. It’s Apple Pie Day.” The guy in the kitchen was David. David makes the best pastry of anyone I know—except my sister Sandra whose pastry is about as good. Both of them are using Mom’s recipe. Mom used to make the world’s best pastry. They’ve got big shoes to fill. My job on Apple Pie Day is to cut up the apples. Some are hail damaged. Some have been touched in places by the fangs of wasps and beaks of birds. But all are tart and firm and tasting like pure joy. All winter we’ll be celebrating the forethought of this day. The possibility of it brightens the future. The first of our pies will go across the street to Ed. He and Sharon will be profuse in their thanks. For at least an hour they’ll be glad they have that apple tree. An apple tree is a mixed blessing. We used to have an apple tree back in the other house. It came to us quite innocently. We looked at a square of grass in the front yard. I said, “Let’s get an apple tree. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few apples?” So we got an apple tree, and it was nice too, the first year when there were a few apples. After that the season became a kind of tyranny of abundance, apples on our heads, apples on the ground, apples for the world. We reached out to the community, the way you do in times of crisis. “Take apples,” we said. “Take more apples.” David learned to make excellent pastry. “Take apples for your friends,” we said. Then we moved. David was the one who wanted to move. I was a bit inclined toward nostalgia. “We’ll take your peonies,” he said encouragingly. “We’ll take the anemones. We’ll plant new tulips, new lilies. We can get an apple tree.” It truly was hard to leave so many beloved plants behind, but we did the best we could. We took the peonies and anemones. We planted new tulips and lilies of gorgeous variety. The question of the apple tree hung in the air. “Let’s walk the block and see who has an apple tree,” I said. This, I suspected, was my chance to make a better decision. This, I hoped, would be our chance to make a neighbour truly happy. Ed has a big apple tree. It’s offerings come to our house by the bucketful. The job of cutting the apples is a good job. You nibble the bits left around the core. You smell the cinnamon. You pour the apples into David’s excellent pastry. Then you smile. You’re glad you got up this morning. You’re glad Ed planted that three. It’s never really clear whether Ed is glad he planted that tree. “Take as many as you want,” he says. “Pick ‘em up off the ground if you want,” he says. “Here’s a ladder if you want to climb it for the higher ones.” He never asks for a pie, but the sharing of this bounty has become a tradition as regular as summer turning to fall. Ed planted that tree long before we met, probably about the time when we planted our own tree back at the other house. Each of us was looking for a few apples to enjoy. What neither of us knew at the time, but have since learned is this: once those apples get growing, it takes a neighbourhood to love an apple tree.