I remember Gramma putting on her apron and asking us to go with her. It was a sweltering hot summer day, and we slowly walked along the edge of the woods along the driveway, then the hedgerow along the back field. Pricked fingers as we worked at our task weren’t a major deal to us. We knew what this was for.
As we neared the back edge of the field we’d carefully climb the hill to the next field up, and simply repeat the process along that hedgerow, cross the field and continue on. Hours would go by. Hurt fingers. Wet, matted hair, sticky shirts all stained red. Happy hearts and happy kids.
Berry picking was a science.
Carefully examining each bunch of green leaves, turning some aside with our forearms to look deep into the plant for big, red, luscious berries. Picking only the reddest berries. The ones that fall into your fingers as you brush them gently.
Usually Gramma used her apron as a basket for the delicious berries we brought home. Many times, though, we’d each have our own buckets. Those were the special days, when we knew there would be too many berries picked to make Gramma’s delicious pie and instead they would go straight into our mouths!
Lessons on pie making
We’d return to the house with our treasures. Gramma would set up her pie-making station on the kitchen counter and I’d watch her every move knowing that if I were patient I would be rewarded with cinnamon-coated pie crust before the pie even went into the oven.
Gram would measure out the flour, the shortening, kneed and roll the crust patiently, expertly lift and place it in the pie pan. Then she’d trim off the extra, dust it generously with cinnamon sugar and place that in the oven. She’d turn her attention to washing the berries and fold them in with some sugar and work her magic.
**Watching and helping Gramma make her raspberry pies was a magical experience.
Lessons on being there
I don’t remember many of the conversations my Gramma and I ever had (aside from her rightly yelling once at me to remove my sneakers from the dining room table) and I definitely don’t remember any of the talks we had while she made pies. But I do remember the love.
I remember her being there.
I remember the sweetness I experienced by her presence.
Gramma and I were both invested in our pie-making projects. But it was more than that. She was invested in me. Walking beside me, guiding me in so many ways in my young life.
Gramma passed away quite a few years ago now. But every now and then moments crop up and I wish my boys had the opportunity to experience her. Not to experience the oh-so-many times she was there after a rough day at school, or to receive the scolding she gave my brother and sister so many times. Rather, simply to experience being part of her life and having her as part of theirs.
**Pie making with Gramma wasn’t a magical experience because of her recipe or her technique. In fact, I have no idea how to make her pie. It was magical because it was done with her being present in the moment with me.
- To be patient.
- To be thorough.
- To work hard.
- To be diligent.
- That hard work sometimes means pain.
- To be meticulous and weed out the rotten.
- To spend the time.
- There are times for silence.
I think the biggest lesson I learned was to spend the time next to each other, working on a common goal. Listening to each other, talking, sharing. Loving……………….Being.
Many (both kids and adults) are not able to experience these. But many of us have kids and adults in our lives that we can make a difference to.
We can each make a difference by just being there. By loving. By being.
But how neat it would be to share an experience. That someone would remember you being invested in them. That they would someday look back and know they had learned many lessons.