Last weekend when Red-haired Sister was in town, she and my parents took the younger kids apple-picking. It was a cold, rainy weekend but they waited for a break in the weather and wore winter coats. With-a-Why came home with red cheeks and a big bag of apples.
All week I've been saying, "Oh, I ought to make a pie." Shaggy Hair Boy loves homemade apple pie, his favorite dessert. But this is a busy time of the semester, and my days are filled with classes, meetings, paper grading, and planning for upcoming conferences. My husband and I have had to devote all kinds of time and emotional energy to my mother-in-law, who has macular degeneration and has been very anxious over a new medicine that gets injected directly into her eye. It's been a stressful week, with no time for anything as leisurely as making a pie.
Yesterday afternoon, my mother called to say, "I made you an apple pie. I just put it in the oven, so stop by sometime this evening and pick it up."
My mother makes the best apple pie. Really. I am not the only person who thinks so.
So yesterday, on my way to meet Quilt Artist, Long Beautiful Hair, and Makes Bread, three friends I was meeting for an hour or two of chatting and commiserating, I stopped at my parents' house, and my mother handed me an apple pie, still warm from the oven. After half an hour of chatting with my parents, I put the pie carefully on the floor of my car and drove off in a vehicle that now smelled delicious.
When I came home after visiting my friends, I carried the pie into the quiet house. My husband was upstairs putting With-a-Why to bed. They read comic books together, and usually in the evening I can hear the voice of Thor coming from the bedroom, but the quietness made me think that my tired spouse had fallen asleep while cuddling his youngest. Shaggy Hair was still awake and eagerly anticipating the pie. He'd built a fire in the fireplace, and the red coals glowed invitingly as I came in from the windy darkness. Right away, I put the kettle on the stove so we could make hot tea and cocoa.
My feet and hands were cold: I haven't yet gotten around to digging out the wool socks, hiking boots, and mittens that I will be wearing from now until spring. I sat down in the comfy chair and drew close to the simmering red logs. I could see flames reflected in the dark window panes behind Shaggy Hair, who was stretched out on the couch with his homework. In silence, we each ate a piece of pie, savoring the cinnamon apple taste, the tender crust.
"Listen," said Shaggy Hair, opening the window just a crack.
From the south, towards the railroad track that acts as a corridor for wildlife, came that haunting sound, the howl of a coyote on a dark fall night.