Hush, I told myself, as I accidentally clanged pots and pans together in my sister’s kitchen. It was three a.m. I couldn’t sleep and had a hankering for lattice-topped apple pie.
Hard to be quiet when I didn’t know where anything was. Four large cupboards lined the walls near the table and six more hung near the refrigerator. Below those were banks of drawers and closed doors full of mystery. In my frustration I pulled a divided casserole dish from storage but could not imagine my tasty creation being squeezed and divided in white corningware. After much not-so-quiet opening and closing, I hit the pie tin jackpot in the corner near the lazy susan.
We’d brought home a large bag of apples that afternoon from the Amish farm near-by. The day was crisp and bright, full of cider, squash and piled pumpkins. The apples called to me in shades of on-fire red to be peeled, doused with honey and butter, baked and enjoyed. I got up in the night to obey.
My sister’s life is full of order, her cupboards and refrigerator the same. Her large country kitchen holds the knotty pine table that served as a banquet table in my parents restaurant. Now her children gather around it with their children and a wayward Aunt Karen from Oregon. She wrote emails last summer telling me how she’d refinished and varnished the table. I would never have dared spread flour over the surface, or used a knife to fashion strips of dough if it had not been 3 am, if I had not been alone in the kitchen with the vision of a warm apple pie where sleep ought to be.
My sister does things just right. She has rules with definite rights and wrongs. I guessed what I was doing would fit into the right category in the morning, but my time and method would give her one of those looks that said, It’s okay, I love you anyway, if she had found me out at night.
Long story short, I never found the spice drawer, so the finished product was bland, but well received, even appreciated and fussed over. She wrote me an email today, which was my first day home after an eight hour plane ride. It said, I felt a real sadness at your being gone. So I went upstairs and wrapped myself in the comfort of your corduroy jacket, which I wore for the rest of the day and then put on again this morning. It is a little piece of you and it brings me more comfort than you know.
I miss her too. A sister is a precious thing, especially one that can tolerate a west coast eccentric who can not follow the rules.
written October 1, 2008