As American As Apple Pie
Today I peeled six diverse apples, cored them and thinly sliced the flesh. Diversity is quite important to me and so when I whipped up an apple pie today it consisted of Fuji, red and yellow delicious and a lovely pink lady stripped and thrown into the mix. Lest you think I purposely buy such a miscellaneous assortment for the sole reason of baking pie let me clarify that these apples were simply the left over ones. The ones I had failed to eat over past week or so. I love a good crisp apple but when they’ve become too mellow they are usually thrown out. Luckily for this hodgepodge, Thanksgiving visited and so they were spared the fate of the trashcan. After slicing and dicing they enjoyed a splash of lemon and then became bosom buddies with flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Pillsbury pie dough enveloped the mixture and after an hour sleep in a hot oven an All American Apple Pie graced my granite counter top.
The aroma within the Hardy/Replogle household was so yummy and thick I toyed with the idea of cutting a slice of air and giving it a taste. At that thought I actually laughed out loud and scratched my head wishing it were possible because I felt confident the caloric intake would be far less. Then a random question interrupted my hilarity: Why is it that the nationality of apple pie is considered All-American? After a bit of detective work I learned the earliest settlers/pilgrims brought apple spurs with them across the big blue ocean. These spurs were planted and cultivated and perhaps with the help of one, Johnny Appleseed, (definitely another Google search) the New World became rich in apples. Cooking the apples in a crust originated because it was an economical and sustainable way to feed many hungry mouths. Also making crust used less flour than baking bread which helped to conserve their limited supply. The crust at that time was considered more of a convenient means of transportation for whatever was cooked inside. The crust was often thick and tough for our pilgrim ancestors. Later, butter was introduced by French immigrants and the apple pie eventually evolved to the scrumptious flaky desert we enjoy today.
I agree apple pie is all American. After all what does it mean to be an American? Americans are indeed as diverse as the apples I sliced today for my pie. Some are Fuji, some are Gala, some are red and some are yellow but they all belong to the apple family. People are small, medium, large, black, red, yellow and white. Some are Christians others are Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Agnostic or Atheist but we all belong to the American family. We are sliced and diced and tossed about and like crust of a pie we all are enveloped by the boundaries of our beautiful country. So today when I slice my pie and scoop up a fork full I will silently wish EVERYONE peace and the happiest of holidays!
Today I chose my skinny black pants. My daughter and I had Thanksgiving plans and as I readied myself for the event I contemplated the britches I stepped in one foot at a time. Have you ever been told you’re too big for your britches? I remember hearing it thrown around once or twice during my childhood. In fact, Mama served it like turkey on a platter for me throughout my haughty teen years. The promise of “taking me down a notch or two”, always acted as caboose and followed this redundant question. I never once answered the question. Gut instinct or good ole common sense convinced me to keep my mouth shut. Intrinsically, I knew no reply was expected. I also knew that I should drop my big britches attitude and quickly slip into my “little britches that could”….and better…obey manner! My Mama was known for her humility and kindness but she was no doormat. Beneath her calm exterior was the makings of a strong fiery woman who could (and did many a time) take on the entire world!
As much as I value the lessons learned from Mama, I confess there are times I digress and once again become too damn big for my britches! During those times my jaws become unhinged and I say things I later regret. Once they’re out of my mouth I instantly wish I could turn into Pac Man and greedily gobble up the junk before it pollutes the ears around me. Once the air has been soiled by gossip there is no amount of Ivory Soap that can wash it clean. Yes, it stinks and it stinks like a silent fart. However, in the case of the silent fart, we may think we know the culprit but, at best, it’s almost always a dubious call. Not so with the words that comes from our mouth. We’ve all been on the pointed end of hateful words and yes, they ARE sharper than ANY two edged sword. They cut right to the soul. Our soul bleeds. Our soul hurts. Our soul heals. Sometimes our soul even becomes stronger but because of the scars left behind they are never the same. Buddha once said, “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
Today, Beth and I ate Thanksgiving dinner together. The words were kind and thankful. The turkey was moist, the dressing… savory, the potatoes…creamy, the cranberry sauce…sweet, the deserts… rich and the wine…plentiful. We ate our fill and then some! Thank God, the pants I chose earlier were sown with stretchy threads! If not, I fear, I would have become…once again… too damn big for my britches!
Pee Breaks and Starlings
We can thank William Shakespeare for the masses of starlings that fodder our yards this time of year. It seems this European bird was introduced to the New World by a group of well-meaning Shakespeare lovers whose passion was to populate America with every species the author penned in his now famous works of literature. In 1890, 60 starlings were released in New York’s Central Park. These medium sized black birds were “fruitful and multiplied”. This obedience to God’s Genesis command has been good for the species. It is estimated that 150 million now claim their address within these blessed United States.
This morning as I made my way for the first pee of the day I glanced out the window and was greeted with a slight dusting of snow and large flock of omnivorous Starlings pecking the punk out of my yard. Many view these birds as a noisy nuisance. I don’t. In fact I remember raising three small starlings that had been deserted by Mama Bird almost 20 years in the past. I became their surrogate Mother and they readily accepted me with wide open mouths. We lived on a farm, of some sorts, complete with Moo cows, a cribbing horse, a 4-H lamb named Rags, a scruffy Cairn terrier and a passel kittens. My Father-in-law, at the time, suggested I just leave them alone because they would only grow up to become noisy gawkers with rambunctious appetites that would no doubt yield itself to the tender spring seedlings nestled within the rich soil of our gardens. Did I listen? Of course not! These little beauties became my pet project and they loved their new Mama….or maybe they loved the food that their new Mama put in their pie-holes! Either way, the four of us were happy! Then they learned to fly and the big bird Mama in me beamed with pride when they’d lite on my shoulder and head. Then one day they flew away and just like that they were gone.
It’s amusing that this memory flashed through my mind as I gazed out across the lawn this morning. I was completely oblivious that William Shakespeare with his late 16th and early 17th century sonnets, poems and tragedies would somehow lead to the happy moment of time shared by myself and three abandoned Starlings. So, I give thanks for a pee-break reverie that prompted a mad clatter of keys that summoned the knowledge of Google. Oh, how I love Google!
Today, as I walk through the hours of my day, I will be mindful of the memory of my three Starling friends. May I not take anything for granted. Who knows, that seemingly insignificant occurrence could be the very catalyst that issues in wonder and magic awaiting to be impregnated and birthed into my life.