Yesterday I spent an hour or so at my parent's former home, the one they moved from three years ago when their abilities to live independently declined. For various reasons we call the house left behind Arapahoe. We still talk as if the house belongs to them, like a safety net or a place they could (maybe) go back to one day. And, they do go back from time to time for Easter brunches, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas celebrations; whenever we gather together as an extended family. The property now owned jointly by myself, my sister, and brother remains a lovely place for a quiet retreat, a family gathering, or a place for out-of-town visitors. In fact, my brother will be in town this weekend and where will he stay? Why Arapahoe, of course.
I'm at Arapahoe on a regular basis, checking this or that and if I'm wise I also get into the garage to start up the car. The battery tends to poop out if the car sits dormant for long and we've had endless encounters with AAA guys who respectfully jump start the battery or try hard to sell us a new one. We've probably gone through half a dozen batteries in the car's eight year lifespan. Finally my brother purchased a battery charger and I must say, it works great. We keep it in the garage on the ready and yesterday was one of those days when a charge was in order.
Whenever I'm hanging out at Arapahoe, I make busy. For the 45 minutes it took for the car battery to come to life on the end of cables connected to the charger, I cleaned up and then opened my eyes wider, looking for anything I could find to discard. Discard? Bad word in my Mother's vocabulary, music to my Dad's ears. I'm much like him; if it can be thrown out, let's do it. Now.
Lest my siblings worry that I'm up to no good at Arapahoe, when I talk discard, I mean perishables, worthless paper, empty cardboard boxes, expired this and that. Three years later, I'm still tackling ancient stuff in the freezer, bit by bit. Six months ago I went through the pantry and founds cans of vegetables and other stuff best used by 2006 that I weeded out. Progress is slow but I try to make headway, one bit at a time.
Yesterday it was the last of the items in the freezer side of the garage refrigerator that got my attention. I left the two glass jars of frozen blackberries alone; they're no good now but my heart wasn't up to hacking away at the contents under warm running water. There will be another day for that task. What I did find was a stack of old pie shells; most store bought in the those flimsy tins. Out you go!
But, on the bottom of the stack was a glass pie plate with a home-made crust, wrapped in a plastic bag and sealed with a twist tie. My Mother's work. I wonder when she made this unbaked pie shell; sometime before the summer of 2006, maybe considerably longer. To Mom, if it's frozen, it'll last forever. I unwrapped it and looked at the frozen dough, pressed into the pie plate for a long time. I etched the fluted edges and the imprints of her fingers on the bottom of the pie shell into my brain. My mother's last pie shell, never filled, never eaten.
And then, I dislodged the frozen dough from the glass pan, in chunks, into the trash.
Arapahoe offers up bittersweet experiences every time I walk in the door if I let myself go there.