Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pie Day

January 23 is National Pie Day, thanks to the National Pie Council.
A box of culled apples we bought for $5

National Pie Day is not to be confused with Pi Day, which is, of course, March 14 (3.14). Pi Day is a day on which many folks, especially science/math nerds (per my friend Pat), celebrate by eating pie. And we all know the equation for determining the area of a circle, such as the surface of a pie, is πr squared. And for the circumference of the circle, as in the pie pan itself? 2πr.

Pies are squared? Not for Pie Day here in Delaware. The pies were most definitely round. And while two pies are definitely better than one, there was no shortage of pies here on Pie Day because there were lots of pies.

In fact, there were 19 of them.

Piling up in the freezer
All day on National Pie Day, the Symphony handed out slices of fresh baked apple pie to anyone who walked through the door. Despite the bitter cold temperatures, lot of people came through that door. Attorneys, a magistrate, my mother, an organist, the mayor, someone in town just to pay his property taxes, a banker, the city manager, downtown shop owners, and the city attorney all stopped in. The youngest pie eater was just short of 3 years old, the oldest were well up in years. About half of the nineteen pies were consumed one slice at a time. The eight remaining at the end of the day went out into the world in various ways. Two went to high school wrestlers (courtesy of my friend Judy), three went to juvenile court, one went home with Buffy, who works at the Symphony, and one came home to our house (half of which I then gave to my friend Anne as a thank you for a wonderful favor).

The eighth pie went home with an elderly gentleman and his wife for a donation. He had a slice, she had a slice, they shared a third slice, and then he asked if he could buy one. No, said Warren, but he would let him take the pie for a donation.

I hope that man and his wife enjoyed every bite of the pie they carefully shepherded home.

19 pies. Yes, I made them singlehandedly in batches of four, doing everything from peeling and slicing the apples to rolling and filling the dough. As I finished each batch, I wrapped and froze the pies unbaked. The night before Pie Day, I baked pies all evening, filling the house with the scents of cinnamon and apples.
19 pies ready to go

What was I thinking?

Not entirely of the Symphony, although I made sure it was the beneficiary of my Pie Day observances. Warren helped immeasurably in making Pie Day happen, including calling a grocery for a box of culls and supporting my quest. I'm glad the pies pulled people into the office. But I didn't do it solely for the orchestra.

Not of my health, that's for sure. I'm in the middle of a relapse. I have not yet started treatment, and my energy and strength levels are at all time lows. That's why I made the pies in batches of four instead of eight or more: I couldn't make more than four at a time.

So what was I thinking?

Here's what, plain and simple: I wanted the community to eat my apple pies on National Pie Day. And I wanted to do it so that in the event that there are no more Pie Days for me, I will look back with great satisfaction on this one.

The poet Dylan Thomas wrote a haunting villanelle, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. The final two lines are often quoted:
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

As I wander through the outlying lands of Cancerland, I give more and more thought to the ultimate end of my wanderings. I do not plan to rage, in the sense of being wildly angry, against the dying of the light when it comes to the cancer and medical intervention. I do not plan to battle and fight this terrible disease to its bitter end. I live with it, I am about to start a treatment that we all hope will make it quiet down again, but I'm not in a battle with cancer. There will come a day when I say to my oncologist "that's enough" and savor the days left to me. That's my plan, when that times comes.

The word "rage" can also mean a burning desire or passion. When it comes to my non-oncology/non-medical side of life, the day to day events that make up 24 hours, I am raging.  I have returned to volunteering at our monthly Legal Clinic, despite how awful I feel afterwards. And my quiet raging is what fueled my hands and spirit through the apple pie binge. Yes, it was exhausting, and yes, I collapsed on the couch when the last three pies exited the oven.

And yes, my heart was filled with joyous rage.

At the Symphony office


Anne said...

I am not sure if you are a better writer or baker. Your bakery has never made me cry though, so there is that. Additionally, one sad, smelly basset hound stole the final piece of pie at my house.

Warren Hyer said...

"As I finished each batch, I wrapped and froze the pies unbaked. The night before Pie Day, I baked pies all evening, filling the house with the scents of cinnamon and apples"... and smoke from the drippings that fell on the oven. Smoke, glorious smoke!

see you there! said...

Pie, wonderful pie! I can't imagine baking all those pies but I can easily imagine eating one or two. Sounds like it turned out to be quite fun and well received.


Sharon said...

You are absolutely amazing. I'm in awe of your spirit, April. I wish I was local so I could taste that delicious pie, but more than that, I wish I could sit and have a piece with YOU. Hang in there sweetie, you will BEAT this. I'm sure of it. xoxoxo

Ellen said...

I love you, April! Your joyous spirit gives me inspiration. Wishing I could have tasted that pie.