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Easy As Pie

September 26, 2012

Easy as pie, right?

My grandmother used to say that to me when I was younger. It wasn’t something she said all the time. It wasn’t a catch phrase. She maybe only said it to me five times. But I remembered those times because a strange look would come over her. She would purse her lips a little and her eyes would shine mischievously like she had just seen a hilarious ghost. I never understood what she meant. I always just agreed with her.

In the fall, when I lived with my grandparents, my grandma and me would go blackberry picking. Sometimes my grandpa would put on “Blackberry Boogie” by Tennessee Ernie Ford while we were getting ready to go. We would each have our basket lined with paper towels and we would each try to fill a basket by sundown. My dog Scout would come along.

It’s not easy picking blackberries. It’s fun, but not easy. You are going to get scratched. I know I did. My grandma never seemed to but she was a professional. She’d usually have her basket filled by the time mine was only a quarter full. Of course, then she’d help me fill mine. We’d call for Scout and go home.

We’d do different things with the berries. Sometimes we’d freeze them. Sometimes my grandma would make preserves. Sometimes we’d just eat them. My grandpa helped with that. Occasionally, by grandpa’s request, we’d make them into a pie.

We didn’t have a mixer or a microwave, just a stovetop, an oven and an eggbeater. Often times she would ask me to lend a hand. I helped with the dough: I liked using the eggbeater. We’d play a board game or cards while the dough chilled. Then I’d help her roll out two of the balls. She’d put in the blackberries and the sugar, the most important part. Then we’d cover the berries in a crust blanket and sprinkle on a bit more sugar for good measure.

The smell of it baking is probably the thing I miss most since I have been away. We’d play dominoes while the pie baked. My grandpa would come in, drawn back into the house by the smell of the pie. “Something sure smells good,” he’d say, usually looking around like he had no idea what it could be even though he had asked for it.

“It’s for after dinner,” she’d say.

“I know,” he’d retort petulantly.

I’d watch my grandma pull the pie out of the oven and cover it delicately with a towel.

It was a long wait, from seeing the golden brown crust coming out of the oven to plunging my fork into a piece. I usually spent the time reading while my grandma made dinner. Grandpa would be out in his shed working on some wooden project or another. He usually came in and got cleaned up with enough time to come in and kiss my grandma’s cheek before sitting down to hearty home-cooked meal. I couldn’t appreciate it; I wanted to eat pie.

At last, it was brought out. We would each have a slice and a scoop of ice cream. My grandpa always got the biggest slice. After his plate was clean, he’d lean back and rub his belly.

“That was delicious, sweetheart,” he’d tell my grandma.

“Sally helped too,” she’d tell him.

“I can tell. It was twice as sweet.” He’d wink.

He washed the dishes and I would dry. When I would whine, he’d say, “If you don’t wanna help with the dishes, then you gotta cook the meals. That’s the deal.” Usually, he would be telling jokes, and when I got a bit older, I would be telling him jokes. We had some fun times, doing the dishes. Grandma would be reading, a James Michener, maybe an Agatha Christie.

I think it’s the arrival of the fall that has me thinking about those old times, thinking maybe I should go home for a visit. When I was a kid, the pie was the taste when I took that first bite. That moment obliterated any memory of what came before. There’s nothing easier than eating a pie. Try not to. But nothing is as easy as pie, because making a pie ain’t easy. You have to pick the berries. You have to make the crust. You have to make the filling. You have to attentively wait as the pie bakes. You have to make a dinner or the pie will have no role to play. You have to wash the dishes and utensils that went into both making and eating the pie. It’s a lot of work.

I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life. I’ve been out of school for a year now and I still feel kind of directionless. I felt that way when I got to school and it only got worse. It’s not that I want to go nowhere. I want to go everywhere. I want to try everything and see everything. But I feel like I’m at that point in my life where that attitude is no longer allowed. I turn twenty-five next month; I’ve got a degree; I should have settled down by now. Society decrees that by now I should be married and children should be in my near future. I picture settling down and it scares me to death, not because I don’t want to be settled, but that by settling, I might be missing something elsewhere. I could be doing so many things, meeting new people, seeing new places, finding inspiration. I’m not ready to give that up yet. I’m not ready to give up on potential.

But then we are back at the start of my problem. What to do? Where to go? Who to see? I have a sort of paralysis. My mind is overwhelmed with the choices and I have unknowingly settled into a kind of holding pattern, buzzing around waiting for a runway or flight instructions. How do you make decisions about your future when every single one puts your future at risk?

It’s easy as pie.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2012 2:19 am

    you will have multiple careers ( most do nowdays), and those things take their own course. Pick something, and if you don’t like it, you will have learned a valuable thing. Plus skills once learned often have value in other fields.

    So keep your options open and start picking the berries somewhere, who knows what other ingredients you will add to the mix later.

    The three keys to success? Think critically, be organized, and have good manners.

    Just that you can write this essay tells me you have skills. I think the pie will be wonderful, whatever flavor it ends up.

  2. September 28, 2012 5:56 am

    Hi Elle here. Thank you for following Flatliner Books.
    Just a reminder: Order your gift copy during our Flat 5 Gift-Away, ending 10/1/12.
    Flatlined on

  3. iusedtolaughatbridgetjones permalink
    September 28, 2012 7:57 pm

    Please don’t think for a minute that you “have to” do anything with your life just because it’s what other people do. Chart your own course and define yourself how you want. Start anywhere – you can only discover new paths if you’re already on a trail.

    I love your grandparents, btw, they sound so incredibly sweet!

    • September 29, 2012 6:31 am

      Thanks for the encouragement. It is very true about finding new paths from the trail. I’ve never thought about it that way. I just need to figure out what I want to do and do it.
      Btw, I love my grandparents too. I’m glad I can share them with the world. They are the best people I know.


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