Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fruits of Summer

It is a lovely cool morning, this last day of July. I think I shall make a pie: peach with a sprinkling of blueberries and a buttery crumb topping. I love pies and would never be able to name a favorite. My favorite is whatever pie I happen to be eating at the time, be it fruit, custard, nuts or meringue. My friend Margaret once said she'd crawl across the desert for one of Peg's pies, which was the most flattering (or maybe the most drastic) thing anyone has ever said about my pies, hence it has stuck in my memory. I am a perfectionist when it comes to pie, from the crimping the crust to the finished product. I always want them to look like a work of art and much as though I have probably made a few thousand pies if you count my bakery days, every one is an individual.  I use butter in my crust; I do not like vegetable shortening and will, sacrifice a bit of flakiness for a melt-in-your-mouth chunk of crust left on the plate (a bit of chemistry: butter has a much lower melting point and so will melt at 98.6* while shortening will not). Today I have local peaches and blueberries, both organic. I have a mix of wheat and white flour, which will make a nuttier flavored crust, and I have my  grandmother's rolling pin, the only one I have ever used. It is a french pin , tapered at the ends and  perfect for fine tuning the rolled out crust. Lastly, I have my passion for pies. That means I will work slowly and mindfully as I prep the fruit, roll my pastry, gently crumble the topping  and bake to perfection. Pies are too much work to take chances so there is a lot of peeking involved once in the oven.

I always envisioned myself with a big windowsill on which to cool my pies, a pile of messy children wanting to pick at the crumbs, waiting impatiently for dessert. Unfortunately, the windowsill idea would attract wasps, of which I am deathly allergic, and the children were a physical impossibility. So I will call a friend or 2 or 3 and offer to have dessert at my house, bring your own milk. Those offers are rarely turned down.

I had best get to work. Come on over!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Only Human

Driving away from a place that one loves is such a hard thing to do. I climbed in to my car with such a bittersweet feeling. I was leaving a beloved, magical place to return to a cherished home, to my heart's companions. But still my sadness created wet trails as the tears fell.

It is sometimes a conscious choice, where one lives, other times it is part of a chain of events that carries one to where they settle. In my case it was the latter. A chain of events that started with my Mom reading the want-ads in search of a job for her wayward daughter. 'Homeworker for small cottage in Cape Cod' was what the ad read; I still remember it verbatim. She gave me the number and I called, an action that was to set me on the path that I have followed for 34 years. I begrudge none of those years, have learned how to live without regret and would not change a thing. That being said, I still wonder what I would be doing had things turned out differently, had the paperboy not delivered the paper that day so long ago...where would I be? who would I be? would I be a different person? would I be a me who just did a different job for my living? would I have the same personality, the same sense of humor?

There are so many variables that shape us as we grow:  our chosen professions, our experiences, both good and bad, our friends, our family dynamic. My choice turned out to be a long hard and rocky road, filled with what I feel was sometimes too much pain, too much shame, too much feeling like I was a child pretending to be me, loneliness in a crowded room. But there was also enough joy in those years of tumult to get me through and on to the next adventure. Not that I did not stumble and nearly fall, the cliff's edge was dangerously close in those days. I do know this for sure: the friends that I have had and still have were my lifelines, they were (and are) what kept me from falling to the rocks at the base of the cliff. 

I know now that I am not alone in these ponderings. I have realized over time that I am not all that original , that many people  share the same questions. Never thinking about it, I always assumed that I was the only one who ever felt the feelings I had, they were mine and mine alone. Of course they were, but there were many other people with similar or far worse circumstances than mine and that we are none of us really alone or so unique in our thought processes. It is a shocking yet comforting realization.

Maybe that is why it is called the ' human condition '.