Harvest on the prairies. Dust blowin’, combines goin’, suppers in the field.
And I was there, back on the farm, the latter part of September. It had been an early harvest for many in the community and this meant more smiles than sadness, more grins than complaints and more than enough pies, cakes and desserts at the annual Macrorie Fall supper. My hometown. The supper is a fund-raiser, yes, but it’s more than that. It’s coffee with former bus drivers, it’s hugs from long-time neighbors; it’s fellowship.
See the two blueberry desserts out front? See that carmelly looking meringue topped madness at 10:00? That’s a sour cream/raisin pie, my Dad’s favorite, and I know it sounds dreadful .. but I assure you .. it’s not. It’s a combination of carmelly pecan-pie gooeyness peppered with raisins and sometimes nut meats.
The community supper – a chance to share harvest’s bounty - was scheduled to start at 5:00 Sunday. By 4:20 no less than 200 senior citizens from a 40 miles radius were in their seats, forks in hand with their pre-selected pie at their seat.
For many elderly farmers, it was a the old favorites that won their hearts: flapper pie, apple, and sour cream/raisin. Ladies chose standards like pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, cherry delight or bread pudding with caramel sauce. Me? Pineapple upside down cake. Oh yeah.
In the midst of the communal enjoyment of roast turkey, dressing, turnips, mashed potatoes, garden peas & carrots, gravy, butter, salad and rolls, I witnessed behavior I hadn’t seen for a while: adults jockeying for position; nearly elbowing each other into line. Grown men gleefully discussing the merits of a good pie.
Someone nearby exclaimed, “Good Lord; it’s like they’ve never had food like this before.”
Oh they’ve had it all right.
They’ve had it at their Mother’s table some 60 years ago.
They’ve had it when their wife was still alive and did you know she loved to bake? Baked a darned good pie that girl did.
They’ve had it when they’ve been included in Thanksgiving plans and had the opportunity to take a few leftovers home with them. And they’ll always choose pie.
It’s not the food itself that does it though; it’s that first taste of something you haven’t had since grade school – that’s what does it. It’s that moment, that taste and smell that awakens the child in each of us. The child who longs for simpler times, for doughnuts at Grandma’s table and pie at the hockey rink. For coming in from a cold evening of freeze tag to the smells of cinnamon coffee cake.
We long for the taste of love, baked into each and every bite.
Thinking about it now, I don’t think I witnessed greed at all. I saw wisdom in those pre-supper pie pickers. They were experienced enough to go for the sweet stuff first and build their plate around it. Why? They knew there would probably be enough turkey and sides (sustenance), they’re farmers after all, but they’d learned, over the years, to not count on the sweet things in life (decent weather, fair prices and a good harvest).
Do you make room for the pie in your life?