Remote Learning Perks

September travel?

we can learn geology

and visit arches

we can buy peaches

from the orchards where they’re grown

relishing their juice

yet COVID follows

with at-capacity parks,

a shut-down ghost town

my motto follows:

be prepared. pack sushi, fruit.

drive towards the sunset.

find the world’s curves

where the sky clears away smoke

and we can just. breathe.

Happiness. Baked.

When I read that post, its remnants sticking to my mind through every one of five hours of punching, sifting, salting, sugaring, and rolling, it feels like I wrote it yesterday. About a time that must have been a million years from today.

This is what a pie is: Something you search for. You don’t settle for the red-and-white cookbook recipe. You listen to your grandmother’s whispers and buy the best flour. You find the words straight from a famous chef’s mouth and shape them into your own, one melted-butter beating at a time. You might have to freeze that pastry for ten minutes or pound it till it listens, but that smooth stretch over nine inches of glass, your daughters laying out lattice and shaping a thumb-and-pinkie catch? Nothing is more beautiful than that.

This is what a pie is: Thanksgiving. Because you clear out your everyday items on the counter to make room for its presence on your holiday table. Because you wait the whole year to spend five hours in this tiny kitchen measuring flour, slicing apples, and cooking up hand-picked, July-we-lost-you cherries (frozen and saved by your mother for this moment) to place this gratitude upon your table.

This is what a pie is: An imperfect crust. Your magazine chef keeps telling you that it should flake, not melt. That it should lie flat, not be perfectly stretched across the bottom and sides of your pie pan. That you should freeze it for two hours before you touch it. You don’t listen. You melt butter, your eight-year-old cuts diagonal lattice strips, your eleven-year-old melts the crust with her hot cherry pie mix, your ten-year-old gives up on shaping her open-topped pumpkin, which melts into a misshapen goo anyway. And yet, they still scramble for scraps to dip in cherry juice and apple-cinnamon deliciousness. So not what it should be. And so what it is.

This is what a pie is: Love. When you don’t have it to make, you long for it. When the year has passed and summer months in an un-air-conditioned home make the idea of turning on an oven for a day unbearable, you look forward to the fall. When the year rolls back around to our national holiday, your tongue lingers on the hope that its crispy, smooth, cinnamon sweetness will hold you for as long as you promised your heart. You love that pie. You admire its beauty, its ability to bring your three getting-too-big girls into your kitchen, begging to be first to make their own, to fight for their chance to pound, roll, spread.

This is what a pie is: Happiness. Baked.

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Labor Day

baby stops mid-hill
after fifteen miles, done
she’s still my winner

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i will wait for her
as we end this Labor Day
she is my last one

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my beach day Denver
filled with beautiful sun girls
swimming and cycling

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dreams are made this way
blue skies, wood-fired pizza, sun
and spinning tires

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confluence meets park
bike path meets Vittetoe fam
we meet our happy

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summer’s end flowers
and a zip line that beats Spain’s
best spent allowance

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unions gave day off
for sleeping in and waffles
life’s a rented dream

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i think in haikus
in between Monday cycles
that bring creeks and joy

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The Sun of this Sunday

they take bottles of clear liquid
wipe the sinks, mirrors, toilets
while we toil with decluttering
and four levels of vacuuming
all before eleven when we
snap ourselves into the tiny car
and drive along sun-streamed streets,
the leaves dancing before us,
letting loose green and gold shade.
we stop and walk to the apple stand
and buy small imperfects
that their hands grasp, juice dripping
before we’ve even ordered souvlaki gyros
to sit on the bench in the shade
and eat with Greek lemon-chicken soup
(i’ll never remember the name).
they skip back to the car
a menagerie of dresses and pants,
and trick-or-treat street awaits
as they measure their steps on the map
sucking in the sun of this Sunday.
we move on to the store that started it all,
the giant scoops of homemade dreams
melting along the sides of the cones
and as we buy our drinks for another day
we move to the library, their singsong voices
unable to contain their excitement over books.
we stop for gas, pack tomorrow’s clothes, lunch,
and evening seeps in to the autumn afternoon
they sit down to veggie sliders
and question our music
and ride their bikes into the night
and remind me
again
again
again
how simply perfect life can be.

Unemployed Words

if words could work
i could buy the right food
food to feed them
food to nurture the Earth
rather than strip her of
her natural beauty

if words would work
we could respond yes
throw our three-dollar-dinner
into the wastebasket
and forget the one week and
ten dollars left till payday

if words could cure
the tears would be smiles
and they could have
the ice cream cones of their dreams
instead of the cheap flavorless popsicles
that melt before they can get a taste
of the world with my words.

Steam

my pies are filled with
fresh cranberries
Colorado apples
King Arthur flour
pastry cream
fresh chilled butter
sinful sugar
decadent chocolate
and perfect recipes.

i wish i could fill these pies with the
muscles i took to pound them
time it took to bake them
dishes piled up in the sink
farmers’ market filled with apples
bog where they harvested cranberries

with the
ache that fits in between the
layers of fruit and cream
the ache that won’t escape
from the lattice-topped steam.

Seasoning

it is recipe,
apple,
zucchini,
pumpkin
season.

the kitchen smells
like cinnamon
concocted with cream
and nutmeg, cloves
pungent with their
pinch in the pie,
spiced apple skins
and pumpkin shells
lining the counter tops
and floors,
sticky with sweetness,
sticky with sweat.

hours at the stove steaming
and prodding and pulling,
wafts of breads,
pumpkin glop,
pies perfectly rounded,
pot roast waiting
for the midday meal.

it is recipe,
apple,
pumpkin,
zucchini,
bread,
pie,
harvest
season.