Tonight, my daughter and grandson came over. The man of the house had the stomach flu, and the AC situation at their house was all fouled up.
Our house was all cooled out because of the rain. Just moments before, the historian and I took a spin around the neighborhood on our bikes, at the end of which there was a little more rain. I was just putting my bike back in the garage when they arrived. We went inside and chatted away in the kitchen. I had two pounds of pie cherries from the farmer's market last Saturday, which I decided to turn into a tart.
The farmer had instructed us that, when we were ready to work with the cherries, we should plunge them into an ice water bath, and the pits would come out "like that," he said, with a gesture that indicated both ease and quickness. "Back when we had two hundred trees, when we'd take 'em to the processing plant, that's what they'd do with 'em--put in in a vat of ice water."
Well, that was good enough for me. So I plunged my cherries into ice water, started this tart dough, and started popping the pits out. I just used my hands--no cherry pitter, no knife. I fished four or five cherries out of the ice water with my left hand, then used both thumbs to split the cherry and extract the pit. Times two pounds of cherries.
"That's going to take you forever," my daughter said. "It'll take you till, like, your birthday, I bet." For the record, my birthday is in August. I was moving quicker than that, but it was still a little bit of a process.
When I was done pitting, I finished off the tart dough, spread it into the pan, and put the cherries on the stove with some sugar and a little bit of cinnamon. They bubbled away after a few minutes. I ground some almonds and sugar and cinnamon in the blender, and spread that in the bottom of the tart shell. And waited for the cherries to thicken.
My daughter, who is not a fan of cherries nor of cherry tarts, said to my son, "Aren't you a little upset that mom's going to all this effort for a dessert that's not even that good?" He agreed with her, but frankly, this did not bother me. When I make a cherry pie, I know I'm not making it for anyone but the historian and me. If anyone else happens to be around who likes cherry pie, all to the good.
Once the tart was in the oven to bake, I turned around, flung my arms in the air, and said, "Cherry tart!" A small amount of grumbling sent us into the living room. I briefly picked up my laptop, to check for important breaking news updates on important breaking topics, but put it down again as I was instructed. There were important games of Memory to play, and games of tug o' war with Bruiser, involving an old collapsed basketball. Stories to tell, laughter.
My daughter in law, on her blog, recorded her efforts to be really present with her children this evening, to set aside distractions and be with them instead of just by them. Our children can call us to this kind of presence with a piercing urgency, but really, being present for our lives is the challenge. Today, I had close to a perfect day: I got up, rode my bike, took Bruiser for a walk, wrote a draft of a poem (the Tom Jones poem, in case anyone's interested), saw a friend for lunch, read and drifted for awhile this afternoon, made dinner, and got the call that my daughter wanted to come over. It was good to be with them. Talking and listening, and taking the seeds out of cherries to make a pie, and playing with my grandson--all this was just about the best end to such a day that I could imagine. This, and a slice of pie.