I knew how to bake cakes before I was married, but my husband liked pie. I tried and tried, but rolling a crust just seemed too great a task for my meager skill.
"We have to have a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving," he insisted, so I worked on it the night before. I finally got something that resembled a crust tucked into a pie plate and turned to the task of making the filling. By then we had managed to finance a cook book, and I found a recipe there. I had the pumpkin and the eggs, but when I got to the cinnamon, I realized I had none.
"I'm going to run over to the store," told him as I slipped out to the small store nearby. I saw the pregnant girl as I waited my turn with the clerk. Rumor had it that she got pregnant without knowing what caused pregnancy. She wasn't married.
"How beautiful she is," I thought as I looked at her flaxen hair and her skin that had the glow pregnant women sometimes get. "How sad that in this modern world such ignorance is possible."
I got my cinnamon and hurried back to my pie, a concrete problem I could tackle. Much to my consternation, the next thing on the recipe was ginger, and I didn't have any of that either! Back to the store I went, somewhat embarrassed. I should worry about the ignorance of a pregnant child! I was a college graduate with a reputation for brilliance at times but, believe it or not, I had to make three trips to the store that evening in order to make my pumpkin pie! .
The worst was yet to come, however, because I had to bake the pie. My oven consisted of a contraption that fitted over our one burner kerosene stove. It was metal, and the heat flowed through it so fast it burned on the bottom and didn't bake the top at all. Here my husband was able to help. An engineer by profession, he designed a stack of magazines to fit on top which served as insulation. At times the magazines got so hot they caught on fire so we stood by with a bucket of water at hand, and when we saw smoke, we grabbed the stack and doused it. By eleven o'clock the pie was done, round and firm and a nice, rich brown as pumpkin pie should be,
I have no recollection of the rest of the meal, but I know we were so full after we finished eating the delicious pie that we had to walk it off. We took our bows and arrows and set off across the fields, shooting at targets we chose as we went. The dogs were along - Soo, the white cocker, so frisky and exalted that she almost broke my heart with her delight, and Smoky, the sedate black cocker who made each step count but enjoyed them all.
The air was crisp and the sun reluctant, but our exercise kept us warm. We found a wooded section with mysterious paths that tempted us further than we really felt like going, and we were almost too tired to finish the pie when we returned. We built up the fire in the parlor furnace which we kept by the bed, ate the pie hurriedly, and tucked ourselves in. The dogs had to sleep on the bed with us because the sub-flooring with the wind blowing through the cracks was too cold, and in the night, as usual, Soo sneaked up from the foot and curled herself across my neck. It was a good Thanksgiving.
That year we spent in the slums gave us a dimension of understanding that few affluent people ever achieve. Our neighbors accepted us as one of them even though we were afraid to drink the water from their condemned well and hauled ours in from the city. The hardships we suffered physically made us aware of how free it is possible to be from material things. We found beauty in the creek in front of our porch, in the hordes of birds who flocked to our feeder, and in the hearts and souls of those people who never would know another way of life.