I’m having trouble transitioning. Today was the first official day of Autumn. My girls went back in school and I went back to my writing office. Soccer tournaments, piano lessons, homework, my part-time job . . . Life has resumed its normal, frenetic pace. But my mind is still back on Long Island. I miss my writing pals. I miss the warm, leisurely days when all I had to do was read and think. I miss our elegant dinners accompanied by good wine and good conversation. I really miss the pies.
Two years ago, when my pals rented the house the first time, they never mentioned how many stories or poems they wrote. They never talked about the dinners they prepared together, or their early morning swims. They just raved about the pie. This year, just before I arrived on Long Island, Nancy sent me a link to the Briermeme’s website which included their pie list so I could make my selections and they’d be waiting for me when I arrived. I’m not joking when I tell you I was overwhelmed. There were so many choices; so many combinations: Apple, Apple Crisp, Blueberry, Peach-Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb, Blackberry Apple, Cherry Cream . . . How could I possibly decide?
Briermere Farm was a thirty minute drive from our house. That’s a long way to drive for pie. But if the crowded parking and the line of vacationers spilling out the front door didn’t clue you in, one step inside the store, and you knew those folks weren’t kidding around.
I have a theory about writers and pies: You can tell a lot about a writer by the pie flavor they prefer. Take my pals, for example. Nancy always went for the Peach pie with its subtle, understated flavors. Not surprising, Nancy tends to be soft spoken, and her stories are to be quiet meditations, celebrations of small domestic moments. Rick and Sarah, meanwhile, liked Blueberry, which, with its bounty of whole fruit bursting on the tongue, was a little mischievous and unpredictable. Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a thing for Lemon Meringue. But I admit there’s nothing subtle or understated about it. Even the creamiest, most custardy Lemon Meringue can pack a punch. When I started writing Queen Sugar, I worried that my work wasn’t understated or subtle enough. I tried to mimic the style of quieter, more subtle writers. Eventually, I found my voice and more importantly, came to accept that I am who I am; I write what I write. I love a good old fashioned story. I’m drawn to strong, vivid characters and a sense of place. A touch of humor never hurt.
It’s a relief to have reached a level of self-acceptance. Lemon Meringue will always be my pie of choice. If that means my writing is a little louder, a little boisterous, so be it.