The pie crunch is on this week. 55 have been delivered since this adventure began in November, but this week is when many are due all at once. It's a daily journey. I was going to say, "One pie at a time," but actually it's more like "Ten pies at a time" at the moment. :)
On Saturday morning I had a hairdressing appointment; an island of much needed relaxation in the Sea of Pies.
I hurried in from the biting cold outside, stamping the snow from my shoes, glad to be inside the bright and warm salon, while outside the first major storm of the winter was brewing.
Jamie, my hairdresser, welcomed me and showed me to a chair on the main floor. She explained that she'd be doing my hair there rather than upstairs in her own small, elegantly decorated room, because she'd be working on another customer at the same time as me who was coming in for a shampoo and set.
Shortly after I sat down, a car pulled up out front and parked, and a blond woman who looked to be a few years older than me, gingerly made her way through the snow, holding tightly onto the arm of a man . They were warmly greeted like old friends by Jamie, and Ivo, the owner of the salon.
The man, whose name was Tony, sank into a chair to wait for the woman, who was his wife. I was sure I knew who they were. A few months ago, Jamie was chatting about a customer named Francesca who was a dear friend, and who came in for a shampoo and set every week. In the course of the few details Jamie shared then, I had realized that her husband was the owner of the company at the Ontario Food Terminal that my friend Brian works as a buyer and seller for--the Brian who has recently been supplying apples for the pies for South Sudan. At the time it had seemed a coincidence; but now I was in the next chair to Francesca. Still, it seemed inappropriate somehow to blurt out to someone who was a stranger that we had a mutual connection.
We exchanged small talk as I was seated between Francesca and her husband and then Jamie asked Ivo to help her by rinsing off my colour.
As Ivo worked on my hair he asked, "So are you going somewhere nice tonight?"
"Actually, I'm going home to bake pies," I said, and shared the story of the guest house in South Sudan and fact that now almost a quarter of it had been built by pie.
"Are you still taking orders?" he asked, and before I knew it I was baking three more pies for three upcoming events in Ivo's life.
"Don't worry if you can't get them done by next weekend," he said, "I'll still take them after Christmas." He patted his softly rounded belly and said with a smile, "I work hard on this!"
We were still chatting about pie as I walked back to my chair, and Jamie, who has been following the posts on Facebook about them, explained the story to Francesca.
A few minutes later, Francesca said, "Where did you get the apples for those pies?"
"F.G. Lister," I said, and Tony said, "I own that company--I'm Brian's boss!"
I told Tony about the guest house project then, and pulled up the last blog post I had written about it, on my phone, so that he could read it, which he did, with interest.
Then he said, "We don't sell the kind of apples you need for pies at the Food Terminal, but I have a contact for Northern Spy apples; I buy them for my wife's pies. When do you need them for? Do you have cold storage?"
I felt like a certain cup-bearer named Nehemiah whose king gave him timber to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, except that it sounded like I was being given apples to build the walls of a guest house in South Sudan.
I am running out of apples and I don't know when Tony's apples will arrive, but I do know that so far, the making of the pies has been provided for in ways that have amazed me and I could never have imagined the connection that happened on Saturday.
There is a need for a safe place to stay with basic amenities, for people going through CH Global (the non government funded, global branch of the organization I work for,) to help those in need in Africa's newest country, and I know that every pie made and sold is a step towards that.
As I have worked in my kitchen, alone or with friends, doing just that, the pies have been a gift that have kept me focused on what Christmas is all about, and too busy to get distracted by what it is not.