There will be pie, that’s the situation.
“What kind of pie? There’s a lady at the counter and she wants to know what kind of pie.”
Does it really matter? Whatever I bake will be exactly the flavor they don’t want.
“Tell her nothing old. Everything new. Something red. And definitely something blue. “ Barista is off to the counter to provide excruciatingly detailed pie information. He’s back in a flash. Do we make gluten free pie?
No, no, no we do not.
Memorial Day marks the beginning of warm weather pie season. The kicking-off-summer crowd is as trendy as I am melted. Floral sundresses and uber cool short shorts are waiting in line, oversized sunglasses perched on top of their heads. Brand new flip-flops grind wayward scone crumbs into floor tiles dotted with espresso. Clutching cold brew coffee with perfectly manicured nails, the beach bound stop by the table weighted down with baked goods. I like to think there’s a fine assortment of pies; Blueberry, Strawberry/Rhubarb, Sour Cherry/Apricot, Maple Buttermilk. There will be a slight pause as a pie is considered, picked up, set down and rejected. “Is there any apple?”
My workstation at the bakers bench is as colorful as a Memorial Day parade float. I am up to my elbows in rhubarb, strawberries, fresh apricots and not-yet-ripe peaches. I’m trying not to advertise the peaches, tucking them away in brown paper shopping bags. Unfortunately, someone has let the peach out of the bag. A barista can be overheard saying, “Yes. I believe they’re making peach pies for the weekend.” I’m mouthing the word “Noooo” to the back of the barista’s head. It’s too late- they reach for an order form and start scribbling. I’m doomed. “Offer them Key Lime!” I propose in a stage whisper. Barista hears me, confers with a customer then turns around to inform me the interested party is traveling to the shore. “How long can the pie stay out of the refrigerator?” I don’t have the heart to subject a perfectly healthy Key Lime pie cloaked in whipped cream rosettes to an extended car ride. I’m using both of my rhubarb stained hands to indicate negative on the Key Lime. “Suggest the gluten free cranberry orange bread instead!” I hiss. Barista confirms, “They’ll take the Key Lime. It’s only a three hour drive.” It’s too late. I am sending one of my own to the battlefield known as the Garden State Parkway. The poor pie doesn’t stand a chance.
There’s a sign in the window of the bakery announcing the Memorial Day Duck Race. After nearly five years of calling this Village home, I still don’t understand it. It has inspired sheet trays of sugar cookies, resplendent with sugared wings and orange beaks. Realizing it is high time to squelch my ignorance, I follow baker Baylee’s advice and Google Village Duck Race. I learn it is a local event in its 18th year. Hundreds of rubber ducks, each emblazoned with a Sharpie inscribed number will bob their way down the neighboring creek, crossing the finish line in the name of charity. That’s pretty impressive. Make way.
One mainstay of the holiday formerly known as Remembrance Day is the distribution of the Buddy Poppy. Red crepe paper petals attached to wire stems are the international symbol of remembrance for veterans of war. Inspired by John McCrae’s 1915 poem, “In Flanders Fields,” a YMCA volunteer from New York (Moina Michael) is credited with proposing the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in 1918. The poem was written well over one hundred years ago, long before gluten free and cold brew.
Memorial Day was also dubbed Decoration Day, stemming from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. We are doing our part in terms of sugar decorations. Our friends at Sprinkle King never disappoint, this time providing the teeniest of patriotic stars for dotting cookies and cupcakes. Team Scone has joined in the holiday spirit by adding fresh strawberries and blueberries to several batches of buttermilk biscuits. More alarmingly, red, white and blue sprinkles have found their way into another. Nothing says Memorial Day quite the way Funfetti scones do. (For the record, I may color outside the pie lines from time to time, but I accept absolutely no responsibility for tri-color sprinkle enhanced scones.)
I’m struggling with the fact that the month of May is drawing to a close. With each day that passes, my recent holiday slips farther away. My daydream of the Italian countryside dotted with poppies, far from the maddening bakery crowd is interrupted by the incessant beeping of the oven timer.
The strawberry rhubarb pies are bubbling furiously through their lattice, leaving the oven mitts sticky as I navigate the scalding hot tray to a Baker’s rack. An inquiring mind on the other side of the rack points to the pies and asks, “Are those the strawberry rhubarb?” Dabbing the sweat trickling down my forehead with the corner of my apron, I nod.
She’s practically giddy. “My husband loves strawberry rhubarb. It’s his absolute favorite. Strawberry and rhubarb. ” She takes a sip of her iced coffee then continues. “Do you have any apple?”
Happy Memorial Day.