josie’s pie pan

This is last year’s photo. This is my ex-husband’s truck with four Christmas trees in the back. The biggest one’s for me.

Grateful: The dictionaries I’ve always argued with tell me this means to be thankful, to be appreciative. Beholden. But I haven’t been able to genuinely take to those words. Part of why I keep writing is to sort out my confusions, to get to the bottom of things: Why can’t I be grateful?

That my ex-husband would pack up our two now-adult kids and continue our tradition of cutting down our own trees (four of them now) each Thanksgiving, well . . . that is a giving thing—yes. That there is no room for me in the cab, well . . . that is one of my struggles. To want what I want when I want it. It’s not a pretty thing.


Thanksgiving Eve Eve friends who have seen me through the past thirty years drove in from Wyoming and met my kids and me for our annual holiday dinner at our favorite Mexican cafe. They were the first to babysit my son way back in the day, the first to share snowmobile and cross-country skiing with my then-husband and me back in our married days. They were the first to come back to me when I walked out on my husband way back in yet another day. Their actions tell me so, but I am doubtful that I am: worthy.

And before we leave, the cafe’s owner approaches. Josie remembers how I love banana cream pie. The crust she makes is a cross between shortbread and a grandmother’s pie crust and although she owns up to a dab of cream cheese in the dough, she’s not about to tell us how she makes her whipped cream or pudding.  She smiles that smile I can’t say no to and asks to make me a pie for Thanksgiving. I can come back tomorrow and pick it up. It’ll be in her own deep, glass pan and cake holder. This is a sign of her trust.


Through a friend of a friend of a cousin, a new customer emails a request for a particular pendant. One that would serve as remembrance of having loved and lost. We exchange emails. Copper over antique bronze? Rusted red over ocean-blue? How do you hold onto a love no longer living beside you?  Gratitude turns what we have into enough, she replies as if I already knew this.


They didn’t take photos of their Christmas tree excursion this year—too caught in the moment of being the only tracks in the forest. No one else was there. Every year the trip is memorable for some new reason. Remember the year Dad locked the keys in the truck and had to hitchhike to the nearest town for a lock doctor? And how Mom played in the forest with us for five hours, waiting for his return? Remember the year Beth mistook the moose for a horse? Remember when the spring froze over and we slid down the mountainside as if we had ice skates? Remember the year we forged the icy creek on foot for the tree that didn’t look too big to carry back across? Remember the year four of us didn’t fit in the cab anymore?

But next year I’ll say- remember last year? Will and Beth will say—Oh yeah, that was the year we were the fresh tracks. But I’ll remember it was the year my wants didn’t overextend.  This year I enjoyed staying home and making pies (yes, more!) and fresh rolls, basting the turkey every hour. Thanks to friends and strangers and a banana cream pie baker, I have  finally come to feel grateful. Enough is more than enough. Apparently I am worthy. And next week, I’ll remember to return Josie’s special pie pan. Filled with  pine cones from this year’s Christmas tree. Pine cones—did you know?— are known to bring good luck.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

20 responses to “josie’s pie pan

  1. Life and it’s past are so full of light and shadows…this post evokes both joy and sadness…did you know they are on the same plane? I sense your gratitude in life to the fullest extent. Happy Thanksgiving Sherry.

  2. wow! all that snow! what a strange and far away land it is to me…beautiful. you are SO worthy….you write poetry for the world. worthy poetry. so there. and a whole heap more. x j

    • redmitten

      janelle, why, thank you! the posts that you share take me away to a world of wonder. snow is a constant here, even when there is none. see how i make “sense”?!

  3. Yes, Sherry, enough is quite enough. Happy belated Thanksgiving.

  4. Tim

    Thanksgiving is the season of thanks and praise, and I send both to you for this excellent post, Sherry. What you wrote about gratitude and the vicissitudes of love makes my heart full.

  5. I know this internal struggle well. Sometimes it is not so internal. Thanks, you made me feel slightly less crazy or at least like I have company.

  6. Rose Hunter

    No room for you in the cab? Wha? *fume cloud* Kidding…. Kind of/as well. 🙂
    I like this a lot too: “Copper over antique bronze? Rusted red over ocean-blue? How do you hold onto a love no longer living beside you?”
    Seems to get to the heart of what a lot of artistic creation is about…maybe….
    Thank you for a lovely post. I was grateful to read it. 🙂

    • redmitten

      rose- you always pick my favorite moment and then you find another i didn’t realize was there. oh and i could write a book about no room in the cab . . .!

  7. Katy

    Now I’m not trying to beat a dead horse or anything, but I’ve been searching your etsy shop for a horse pendant… i will buy something else if it’s not forthcoming but you were dangling that carrot so i was waiting…

    • redmitten

      katy- that very pendant is on my curing slab of marble at home. it’s got a blend of your red/viper-ish blue. maybe not quite a horse, but it’s turning out gorgeous! i’ll have it ready for you by the end of this week. everyone in the studio calls you by name now. katy-the-one-who-is-going-after-life-by-building-her-own-fill-in-the-blank. ….! wait for the carrot…!

      • redmitten

        hmmm…and now i should do one called “wait for the carrot” and everyone reading this blog would know what that means! (already beck did one called “carrot in the sky”, so this would not be a stretch…)

  8. There’s a lot to smile about with your post, but I loved this one line because it’s such an adroit non sequitur:

    “Part of why I keep writing is to sort out my confusions”

and then you said:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 51 other followers

%d bloggers like this: