THE SONIC BOOMER
You know what people who love the outdoors do? They garden.
You know what outdoorsy people in the midst of a pandemic do? They garden even more.
You know what outdoorsy pandemic people with an overabundance of fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants do? They give them to people who don’t garden.
There are two reasons I don’t garden. First, I don’t enjoy the sun beating down on my head enough to spend any time focused on a plot of soil in my yard. Second, I don’t want to deal with whatever said plot of soil puts forth. I like to buy my stuff at the grocery store (as nature intended) where I can get one apple, two pears and maybe a little sack of green beans. When I run out of these things, I go back and buy another apple, two pears and — to mix things up — a couple ears of corn.
I have tremendous respect for the people who work so very hard to get these things to the grocery store, but, believe me, I am not one of those people.
Yet every year about this time, my next-door neighbor brings me a bag of sour cherries. I thank her, stash them in the fridge and worry about how quickly I have to deal with them before they go bad. I worry every day, especially when I open the refrigerator and they are sitting there, mocking me by saying, “Going bad” in a completely mythical sing-song voice.
This summer, the dreaded bag appeared last week. I thanked my neighbor, stashed it in the fridge, was taunted by the bag for a few days and then — she brought over another bag, twice the size of the first. Given the circumstances (her husband recently had a heart attack), I simply smiled at her and wished them good luck and a speedy recovery.
So now, sour cherries inhabit nearly a full shelf of my refrigerator and their cacophony of threats is almost as loud as the raging guilt in my head. You heartless ingrate! You callous snob! You deal with that wondrous bounty of nature right now, darnit!
I borrowed a cherry pitter from my daughter. I dragged the bags, the butter and two frozen pie shells from the fridge. I climbed up on a stool and got down my mother’s old recipe book. I rummaged around in my cabinets and brought forth several bowls, my measuring spoons, a one-cup measure, a rubber scraper, the flour, the sugar and the cinnamon.
Pitting the cherries took an hour. Mixing up the ingredients and getting them into a pie shell took 15 minutes. To decorate the top, making a cute little flat basket shape out of extra pie crust and wadding up balls of crust into diminutive cherries to put into it took another 30 minutes. Baking the thing took 35 minutes. It had to cool for 10 minutes, during which time I ran to the store for vanilla ice cream. That trip ended up costing me another 20 minutes because I had to stop at the bakery counter and gaze appreciatively at the stack of cherry pies sitting there, all ready to go.
My husband is beside himself at the very sight of this cherry pie. He practically stood next to the oven the whole time it was baking, and he wants to dig in. Because I am home with the ice cream, now he can.
“Would you like a piece?” he asked.
“That pie cost me nearly three hours of my life and, frankly, I’m just happy to have it off my to-do list.”
Post script: The heart attack victim is on the mend; my neighbor loved her slice of the pie; and now I don’t have to worry about anything — that is, until cucumber season.