When I left Little Rock Sunday morning, I had one thing and one thing only on the brain: pie. Pie for breakfast, in fact. It was the fault of the wonderful website Roadfood (http://www.roadfood.com/) where I had learned that just off interstate 40 east of Little Rock in the tiny town of Devall's Bluff, Arkansas resides an enchantress of pie.
After lunch, I got back in the car and hunkered down to put some miles under me since I was due in Carbondale, Illinois by early evening to have dinner with my dear friend Joan. I chose tedious interstate driving to make time, but found to my relief that I was more than amused by the variety of signs I kept encountering. For example, one billboard I saw proclaimed the road I was travelling on to be the "Highway to Hell Yeah!" Not long after that, I saw an 18 wheeler go by headed the other way on the interstate that had "Jesus is Lord" printed in huge two foot font arcing across the side of the container. Underneath, in smaller, fancier script, the sentence continued emphatically: "NOT a curse word!" There were plenty of unusual sights to entertain me all the way to Carbondale, including nonstop fields of cotton in various stages of harvest. The puffy white fibers looked lovely against the backdrop of cotton ball clouds that dotted the sky.
I joined my friend Joan for some delicious dinner at a little vegetarian cafe in Carbondale (university in town=quirky food usually available). Joan is one of those glorious friends that I can neglect to see or talk to for years and years but it never keeps us from just picking right back up where we left off when next we finally meet. We caught each other up on what had been happening in our lives and compared the progression of gray hair on both our heads. I experienced a feeling of comfort when I recognized that this is one of the ways that aging looks.
I bid Joan goodnight and retired to my room at the budget motel to get some writing done. Later in the evening, I sliced a generous wedge of the ruddy brown pie from the round, the faintest scent of cinnamon reaching my nostrils as I pulled the triangle from the pie plate. It was incredible. Dense but not heavy, light but not flavorless. The crust was masterful - flaky with plenty of body and taste of toasted flour. Every time I took a bite, a pleasant and mysterious flavor lingered on my lips after the morsels of sweet potato had dissolved away.
Thank you Mary, for making such marvelous pie and thank you life, for letting me find it.