July 19, 2009
One evening up at camp, my husband and I took a meandering drive through the upland farm country of red barns and cattle and clapboard houses with sagging front porches. “Stop,” I said before we’d gone very far. “Let me take a photo. This evening light is so nice.”
My husband looked at the old piece of farming equipment by the side of the road. “That? You’re taking a picture of that?”
“Yeah.” I scrambled out of the car, snapped a photo, and jumped back in.
My husband started the car again. “I’m just realizing now how very odd you are.”
As we drove through an intersection of what seemed to be a very small town, with a bar and a church and a couple of odd buildings, we saw a sign that made us both want to stop: “Homemade pies.”
We followed the arrow up a hill and around a curve, and then peered into a scene that looked like something out of a book. A bunch of kids in simple, homemade clothing were playing with a tire swing in the shade of some big maple trees. A girl in a plain blue dress looked at us curiously as we turned down the lane, and two big dogs came barking. A wooden sign at the beginning of the lane proclaimed, “REPENT. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.”
The sign said “Saturdays only” so we returned that Saturday morning, hoping to make ourselves heroes to the rest of the family back at camp by bringing everyone homemade pies. Our tires crunched on the gravel driveway as we pulled up to the old farmhouse. The farmyard was filled with broken cars, which shattered my theory about what religious sect the family belonged to. Through the window on the porch, I could see a big family, eating breakfast. I couldn’t count how many children: nine, maybe, or ten.
A big man with a beard, a straw hat, and overalls came out to greet us. Three small boys sidled out to the porch as he talked. The most surprising thing about the man were the number of tattoos covering his heavily muscled arms: he clearly believed in using every single piece of skin available. “Sorry,” he said. “We don’t have pies this week. She’s taking a break.”
A teenager girl in simple blue dress appeared in the doorway. “She said a couple of weeks.”
We never did meet the woman who was the maker of the pies. She stayed in the kitchen, a shadowy figure who could be heard talking to younger children and rattling dishes. The dogs came rushing out, and the little boys pushed them back into the house. The man gave us a spiel about how great the pies were, which made me hungrier. We drove off at last, empty-handed, with nothing to show for our drive but a story.
Posted by jo(e)