Friday, January 03, 2014

True Friends Join You in the Crazy

It was the last day of baking to fill the Christmas orders for apple pie. I had taken the day off from my job as there were an unmentionable and impossible number of pies to be baked before the next morning.

My dear friend Irene also had a day off and was coming to help me by peeling apples. Early that morning she texted me to say, "I'm on my way. Don't start without me!"  

"Don't worry, I won't!" I texted back. And I thought, "True friends join you in the crazy."

She put in a solid 8 hours peeling and slicing and assembling more pie boxes while I rolled pastry and plugged away at assembling and baking pies. Another two friends were coming later; Susan and Kathy; and Irene didn't want to leave until they arrived. And I knew I was being handed from the care of one guardian angel friend to two more.

Kathy and Susan arrived after their own days at work. The peeling was all done, but I had many other things that they could do to help. We laughed a lot as we worked, but I think I stressed them out too, with my instructions to "Weigh and bag 1 pound 6 ounces of apples--exactly." I am obsessive when it comes to measurements and other parts of the process of making the pies.

When we three sat down for a break before they left, and had a cup of decaffeinated coffee and cake, I apologized. They both looked at me as if they didn't know what I was talking about when I said, "I feel as though here you are, two grown women who have baked many pies in  your lives, and I've been treating you like you didn't know what you were doing."

And they both shook their heads and said in all seriousness, "Oh, no, it's quality control." 

And I thought, "True friends close their eyes to the crazy!"

I had been thinking about my mum throughout my pie making and over our coffee, I told Susan and Kathy about her apple pies. She did not enjoy cooking or baking as I do, but she did make a special apple pie.

Mum's apple pie was substantial and made in a large white enameled pie plate, with a dark blue border around the rim. She cooked her apples first in a small amount of water and some sugar, so that they were a thick apple sauce, or appelmoes as she called it in Dutch. The crunchy golden pastry was sprinkled with sugar and she always made delicious, thick, Birds Custard to pour over our large slices.

When we were very small, Mum made up a story that we loved to hear over and over again, about a little pixie man who wandered away from home and got lost in a forest when the sun went down. Of course in later years we realized that this story had a message that Mum wanted to impart subtly! But in the story, a giant finds the pixie man, pops him into his breast pocket, and from this vantage point, high above the tree tops, the pixie man was able to guide him to his home. The mummy pixie man was so grateful to the giant that she baked him an apple pie in a big saucepan lid, and they all became fast friends! I think that the message that was implanted in me was to "bake pie!" :)

Susan and Kathy shared their memories of their own mothers' pies. Susan grew up in Windsor, and her mom drove to work in Detroit every day. Every year at American Thanksgiving, which she would get off as a holiday, she would make apple pie. 

Kathy remembered her mother making mincemeat pie from homemade mincemeat and always adding an apple to the mincemeat to "cut the sugar." Pie weaves itself into our memories of childhood.

True friends, so many of them, came alongside in this adventure to help or purchase pies, or both. If I were to name them all, the list would be long. But I have the list in my head and heart and I am so grateful. 

True friends join you in the crazy!


Anonymous said...

Pie had a different weave in our family. My mother couldn't make one. Her favorite line was from the movie "Annie, Get Your Gun" where, when competing in the "I can do anything you can do better" song, the question came up: "Can you bake a pie?" "No!" "Neither can I." That confession was enough for mom. We never ate pie. But we did have some wonderful Nanaimo Bars!!! So pie is in our "history", not in taste, yet lent our childhood flavor!

Belinda Burston said...

Anonymous, that is a great pie story because it brings back a funny memory of your mom, NOT being able to make one. Thanks for sharing it. :)

Marilyn said...

I simply loved this post, Belinda - the images of the various pie traditions and, most of all, the profound truth about friends joining us in the crazy.

I especially enjoyed the spin put on your ordering around your experienced bakers, as I am currently working with someone who orders me around from time to time, though I know she doesn't mean to. Quality control. Yes indeed! We are both after a good outcome. That is what we have in common and I will remember your post whenever she offers a suggestion that sounds more like an order. You really helped me by being candid about that.

Belinda Burston said...

Thank you Marilyn. Your post entitled, "WHY I keep reading your words" was such an encouragement. Thank you for always being honest and inspiring. I'm really glad that here, today, something came back to you. :)