Gathered at the far end of the dining table, four generations of women shift in afternoon sun streaming high through the picture window in the kitchen. Suddenly, I’m mesmerized by the stillness of Round Lake just feet away. A spot of sunlight shimmers over the surface like a flapper moving her beaded dress, taunting me to wade in and play. But we’re focused on something more important. Grandmother is giving me a lesson on baking pies.

My daughter is filming it while my mother-in-law culls a pastry blender and fork from six decades of utensils mingling in drawers.

Grandmother’s pie baking is a family tradition. Flaky layers of perfection cup blueberries handpicked and bubbling over the side of tins onto foil lined sheets. My August birthday falls on our vacation so I get to choose the fruit for the pie. There may not be enough wild blueberries in Canada to satiate my appetite.

The smell woos small dripping legs from the water, heads pressed into the screen door. Sweetness known to incite jealousy among relatives who discover she’s baking pies when they aren’t around to eat them.

If the weather cooperates, extravagant riches already stock the freezer; rhubarb plucked from her garden. One of the many reasons the twenty hour drive to the family cottage seems insignificant.

On this day, I’m avoiding my bathing suit and the enticing warm lake water. Attempting to find the muse, the particular notes in the music that make her pies sing.




Seated at the head of the table, I lean over the plastic bowl holding a fork in my powdery hand, stare at a few bars of Crisco, some water in a measuring cup. Flour scatters on the same green plastic table cloth used for years of summers.

And I realize this isn’t about magic ingredients. It’s about art. Art shaped into a masterpiece by an experienced sculptor. Beauty we’ll behold warm on our laps, in a melting pool of vanilla, when the cheeks of the golden orb smile on the lake coloring it orange.

I’ve taken notes in the past, jotted down all her hand movements, measuring time like I can bottle it. Attempting to be a copycat, I know that my rendering will be a cheap imitation of the original.


But today, her hands lay folded in her lap. She gives me verbal instructions between intermittent gazes out the window like a lonesome woman longing to see a glimmer of her lover’s return on the horizon.  And I wonder if she’s lost the appetite for pie in exchange for the taste of something more satisfying.

When we awake the next morning to a cradle of stillness broken by the haunting call of the loon, our bellies gurgle with Grandmother’s favorite pot roast and oversized slices of my blueberry pie. We fight over who gets the last piece for breakfast.

My family quietly slips out the door to spend the rest of the day site seeing while Grandmother sleeps.

But she never wakes up.


We talk about it often. The way God orchestrated those sacred moments seated around the family table for her last supper and my first official pie lesson. How her ambivalence about making the pie crust wasn’t intentional. Preoccupied with the distant call of her Father, she was passing on the gift to the next generation, ready for His embrace.

My daughter is already talking about baking pies as we prepare for our next vacation. She boasts about how her brother owns finicky taste for her apple pie now.

The table waits for our return.  Time remembers the sweet taste of Grandmother’s pies through the hands of her namesake and the lake shimmers on our arrival. This I know.


This post is inspired by Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequiest for the Bloom Book Club at {in}courage.