Last weekend, my friend up the hill invited us — and the entire contents of my little sister’s apple tree — over to her house for what she refers to as “Apple Day.”
Apple Day sounds like what it is — an entire day dedicated to transforming the fruit of an over-productive tree into delicious treats we will store away for the long winter so that we can pull them out and reminisce about the three minutes of summer and one minute of fall we once had — and that time we all got together and canned 700 quarts of applesauce, assembled 3,000 apple crisps and made 500 from-scratch pies.
“Mmm, tastes like a perfect autumn day,” we’ll say as we serve it up over ice cream, likely to the very same friends who we made it with, so I won’t be able to take much credit because it’s my friend who’s the brains of the operation.
And my sister and I? Well, we spent most of the day saving our babies’ lives from the big chunks of choking hazards we kept dropping on the floor.
Because when my friend does Apple Day, she makes sure she has banana bars, three different soups, bread and a sample of our newly created crisp in the oven. And ice cream. Always the ice cream.
It was a lovely day. Because yes, we got to take home enough treats to fill a freezer, but mostly because it’s always been like this with her, my oldest childhood friend, and it was nice to stir up the memories.
My mom likes to tell the story of her as the tiny 3-year-old she used to babysit who gave my mother a tutorial on how to properly crack an egg while standing on her tippy toes on a stool in her kitchen.
And when we were growing up, my friend would lead the charge of recipe creations made out of ingredients like Hot Tamales, angel hair pasta and marshmallow cream. If it sounds disgusting, it was.
But so was the green garden pepper smeared with peanut butter she convinced me to eat when I was 10. Turns out that’s actually a thing her family eats.
So now, whenever I taste an out-of-the-garden-pepper, I think of her freckled, sunburned face laughing as I spit it out cartoon-style.
It’s the same way I think of her and I standing in the road ditch north of my place every time I taste a Juneberry pie that is never as good as the one she made from the berries we plopped in that bucket tucked into the sling where my casted arm rested, a result of a summer horse injury that didn’t really stop us.
Nothing really stopped us back then. And now look at us, all grown up with a thousand excuses to say no to the things we think we don’t have time for, like standing side by side rolling out dough and laughing.
And so today, for so many reasons, I thank God for a friend who says yes. Yes to pie and a house full of kids who get to grow up with sweet memories tucked away, too.