Updated: Oct 4, 2019
I flew back to Iowa a few days ago to plant trees, nearly 200 chestnut trees we received as sprouted nuts last April and are now growing in pots. Along with that, I am timing my arrival with a family reunion tradition that my mother began over 30 years ago, when everyone I know was a lot younger.
Mom passed several years ago and we have missed many years of holding the hog roast, but now my dad, along with his new wife, want to revive the tradition and have asked me to cook.
I began doing some of the cooking as my mom began to slow down. Each year I did a little more, she a little less, dropping back bit by bit as her age took its toll. She still always made the pies because that was what she was famous for, pecan pie for Dan, prune pie for Tim, apricot pie for me. But more and more, I did the bulk of the work. I did it because I loved my mom and I loved to cook with her. She was always so proud of me, that I had become a good cook like her, that I had learned so much from her. Food was our special connection.
This year, it seems harder, less fulfilling. There will be a lot of people there that I don’t know from the new wife’s side of the family and my cousins are all so much older now, their kids grown with kids of their own. It is difficult to imagine this whole thing happening without mom there in the center, pulling things together with the love of family and the outpouring of pie from her heart.
But I will go, and cook, and plant my trees, knowing that in the next years, I will be there, on my farm, holding my own hog roast, building my own tradition in the memory of my mom’s. This year will be a building block toward that time, a verisimilitude that will carry me through.
Now where did I put mom’s pie dough recipe?