My grandmother passed away 3 years ago this month. It's not the only reason I associate this time of year with her, and certainly not the best. She was a reserved person, not afraid to speak her mind, but who believed her actions said it all. She fostered my love of good books and homebaked goodies.
In honor of Marian Jean.
My daughter’s chin rests on the table as she watches me slice the peeled apples. I smile down at her and remember watching you.
The crisp of the knife sliding through the apple’ flesh releases its tart scent. The chopping rhythm reminiscent of a metronome. Setting the pace for the masterpiece being created. I snack on crunchy peels as you scoop up the slices and deposit them in the big bowl. Quick, deft movements as you measure out the sugar, flour, grate the fresh nutmeg and the spicy cinnamon. The confident dash of ginger added to the mix. Kneeling on the chair, I listen to your soft instructions as you ‘help’ me coat the apples.
Her hands seem so small, and I wonder if you thought the same thing, all those years ago. Together we flip the slices over and over in the goopy mess, laughing when a pocket of still dry mixture flies up at us. Her exuberance delights me. I can’t remember why I hadn’t taught her this before.
I play with patterns, laying the apple wedges one way and then another, changing with each new ring. In the center, you show me how to lay one over the other making a heart. Every pie is made with love.
The top crust is rolled out, and she stops me for a moment. Having shown her the same trick with the slices, my impulsive little one wants to expand the theme. Bolting for the cabinet, leaving flour finger prints along the way, she triumphantly pulls out the cookie cutters. The little heart, too small for cookies, has never been used. It makes perfect vents in the dough. She is so proud. I can just imagine your amusement at her.
The kitchen is warm and filled with the mouthwatering smell of fresh baked pie. You crack the window to let in the cool air, bringing in the smell of fallen leaves and sending out the aroma of apples and cinnamon to those clearing the yard. The two swirl together, the perfect fall memory.
The boys clamor in, taking a break from yard work to beg for a snack. My daughter’s braids flail as she jumps, pleased as punch to see her father and brother’s reaction to what we’ve made. I grab the plates and forks as she chatters at them about all she accomplished this afternoon. I listen as the banter slowly turns to praise as everyone digs in. I look at my piece, and smile at the perfect heart in the crust. I have no memory of you ever telling me “I love you.” But I know that you did.
A very big thank you to Danielle who got me hooked on writing these, and helps me edit them!