The other day the bottom fell out of my bag of pears. If the bag is the flimsy grocery store produce one, light green and very difficult to open once pulled from the roll (especially now that we do not lick our fingers in public), the bottom is likely to fall out if your pears are unripe and heavy, or if you’re buying more than three apples. The pears landed on our kitchen floor with a thud and later, a bruise, except for one. And that one pear landed instead in the deep pocket of the apron I wore.
My apron is big and blue, with roomy pockets, perfect for a pear. I kept the pear in my pocket for a while, because I found its weight and its escape from the fate of its fellow fruit reassuring somehow, and encouraging, like a weirdo would. I even took a picture, as you can see.
Just before I started to talk to my pet pear, I placed it on the counter, where it belongs, to ripen.
What is the meaning of all of this? First, get an apron and make sure it has big deep pockets. Wear it like a boss. And lastly, I think, pay close attention to tiny moments and movements, especially now. Be glad, whenever and wherever you can.
In the wilderness of the days between Christmas and New Year, my mother and I made an exquisite dessert together. It is in the “Sensational” category of my Bake With Anna Olson cookbook, with the other categories being the lesser “Simple” or merely “Scrumptious.” Anna says in her preface not to feel that way, but it’s hard. She writes, “If you’re looking for a challenge, or looking to impress, then head straight to the Sensational recipes. The name says it all.” She promises “a glorious end result that will reflect the full extent of your efforts.” As an aside, if you do not habitually read the prefaces of cookbooks, you’re really missing one of the very best parts. Anna promises: “…if you’re in doubt about picking up your baking apron, just think of the smiles and nods of appreciation for your efforts that await you!”
Anna’s Key Lime Cheesecake was the only thing that could get me back into a grocery store in the waning days of deep December, where I picked limes (which came from Mexico in their own sturdy, mesh bags) and fought the urge I always feel to murmur “It will be okay,” to the other women I see there at Christmas.
I returned home and laid all the ingredients out on my counter, like I’ve been taught, and pre-heated the oven, like Anna said.
Gently then, I coaxed my mother to lay her iPad down, and step into my kitchen where I offered her another of my deeply pocketed aprons to wear.
“Sure,” she said. Then she turned around and I tied her apron for her, to help. And in that second, the tingle of a memory arrived in my hands, and the warmth moved up my arms. I did not receive the picture in my mind, it remained out of my reach, but I could feel the memory. I knew that sometime long ago, and probably more than once, my mother had tied an apron on to me.