"I can't believe you can be trained to make a pie already," I say.
We stand there, Jane and me, a lobe of dough there on the rolling mat. I press my fist into the soft ball, heel my palms into it until the form relents and slumps, flat and roundish.
"I put my heart into it," Jane says. I press the tips of my fingers along the circumference until the lump measures six inches across.
"Yep." Our eyes never leave the widening circle.
"If I like something, I put my heart into it," she says. "If I put my heart into it, it's hard to stop me."
I nod, the snag-pull of a smile at my cheek. "Here, see if you can roll it out to nine inches." I hand her the rolling pin.
I turn, swoop a lavender rag over kitchen countertops, gather measuring cups, straighten steel canisters, cipher a load of laundry from the annals of the bedroom, straighten the covers of our bed. Curiosity threads me back kitchen-ward.
"It looks good," I say over the horizon of her shoulder. "Here, you want me to smooth it?" I pat the center, "See how it feels a little fatter here, thinner here?"
The rhythm-rhyme of the rolling pin across pastry crust and we chat. A friend has a job she hates but keeps pressing on.
"Yes," Jane says. "It's very dangerous to drop a job if you don't have another one."
I pause the rattle metronome of the rolling pin. "How'd you know that?" I say.
"'Cause you say jobs are scarce and stuff like that," she says.
I nod, the natural extension of my words like grass growing between my toes. "Here let me show you how you drape the crust over your arm and put it in the pan." She leans in. I lean forward.
Suddenly, it's like learning to waltz, the two of us there, a butter crust draped over our arms, the feather touch as we rotate it into the pie pan. 1-2-3, we exhale and grin in concert. Nimble fingers ease the corners into place.
"I sometimes question what you do," she says.
"That's normal," I say. "That's how you learn to recognize good authority, by taking it apart." We trace the lip of pie pan, through the folds of crust, cut a fresh edge. "Even good authority isn't perfect," I say, "so you get lots of practice discerning right and wrong."
The crust smooth like a face without expression, we seal the edge, cut holes for steam, paint it with cream, and baptize it with sugar.
"There. Pop it in the oven."
We retire to the sunroom, linger over books. We recline, peaches and pastry wafting in plumes from the kitchen. We read God King by Joanne Williamson.
"When you love somebody," Jane reflects on the story, "it's like you look through them and see this faint image of their heart, and it makes them beautiful. You see it in everything." Her hands cupped the image fixes in my mind.
Then it's dinner and lawn mowing. Daddy out back chorusing the mower, us clearing dishes, we cut the first pie slice, cooled and gooey. We slide it onto a ladybug plate and the six of us tritt-trot down to Bertha's house. Bertha, she turned 94 on Friday.
We gather on Bertha's porch: Joey slung over a hip; Myra clutching my hand; Jane, her back straight and countenance easy, the pie balanced one in hand; Jack and Lucy perched and resisting the temptation to hunt grasshoppers in the shrubs. We wait, an elongated moment. The doorbell jangle, a dog bark, and swoosh there she is with her daughter Sherri.
The flutter of adrenaline and Jane hands off the pie. A gift. A gift of time. A gift of skill. First fruits. The evening dangling there before us, we swoosh it up, encircle it around our shoulders like a shawl.
We jolly back all full and blithe. ...to one of the least of these you did it to me. To Jesus, we gave a slice to Jesus. All that pie and the best part was the first slice.
4759. Lucy makes family breakfast for her morning chore: custard oatmeal.
4760. "Did you know older people are actually not treated well by some people?" I ask Jane. "Why?" she splutters, "They are better than other people. They are wiser and nicer. I actually kind of like them better than other people. They're the ones that actually got spanked when they were young."
4761. Pizza, garden tomatoes, fresh basil, blackberry pie, and family, family encircles our table.
4762. "And Jesus, thank-you for precious Myra," I pray. Myra pops her eyes open. "What did you say?" she chirps. "Precious Myra," I say. "I like that," she says. "I like that too."
4763. Craig's mom drops off the belt he left there.
4764. "Why do you think it looks like really little seeds," Lucy squints at my eyes, "like really little dots of orange are in your eyes?"
4765. Dye. Lucy and Myra help me dye some shirts new colors.
4766. Craig and Jane and Jack go fishing with my brother and his two oldest. They don't catch a thing but enjoy the best adventure of all, good company.
4767. My mom and I go to get my driver's license renewed. Yup, got a great picture. Plus, we visited the whole time, just another vehicle for friendship.
4768. We harvest garden bounty with Miss Lynne.
4769. Raggedy Ann & Andy.
4770. Lucy gives Myra the extra honey stick when I ask her to divide three sticks between the two kids.
4771. We celebrate summer birthdays out at my dad and mom's. Once again the round-robin roasting of compliments and encouragement blesses me to the very tips of my toes, brings the whole world into focus.
4772. Birthday gifts.
4773. I listen to my brother's sermon on Exodus 10. I love his preaching.
4774. A thunderstorm moves through our area. "I love thunderstorms and watching them," Lucy says, "'cause it shows me how powerful God is. It just kinda feels like he's talking to me right then."
4775. I pause to wonder if I could hear that same voice and power when my life collapses into storms too.