This is the 6th in a series of Pie Camp Stories.
Darlene wasn’t a pie maker before coming to Pie Camp, but learning to make pies is something she feels changed her life. Highly accomplished in high tech, she was known as “a fixer. ” When people saw her coming, they would smile because they knew she would make things go right. But she herself was “a walking PTSD nightmare” for most all of her adult life. A survivor of a brutal physical attack, she had no memory of it, until thirty-five years later when her life went upside down. No longer was she able to work, function, or feel she had any purpose. Her physical wounds had healed, but the deeper ones, the ones that cannot be seen, were still raw. She withdrew deeply into herself, moved to a remote rural area, and avoided interactions with others as much as possible.
Out of the blue one day, a childhood friend heard her say that she would like to learn to bake pie. Now, the thought of pie making was a surprise to Darlene as she is “someone who never before spent time in the kitchen, ” but she expressed such excitement that her friend gifted her a spot at Pie Camp. Even still she was on the fence about coming, but after many emails and phone calls with me, she made the journey to Pie Cottage to join a 4-day Pie Camp.
On the first day, Darlene was the last to arrive. Just as introductions began she quietly entered and found a spot on the corner of one of the couches. Saying very little, she watched and listened to the other campers who were sharing their excitement of the Pie Camp adventure to come. Over the days that followed, she began to smile, laugh, and relax. By the time her take home pie came out of the oven on the last day, she was already making plans for what her next pies would be and to whom they would be given when she returned home.
Over the years we’ve kept in touch, and she shared a few thoughts with me about how she feels pie-making has changed her life:
- I had become so isolated, and baking and sharing pies re-opened the door to the world for me.
- Pie-making allows me to organize my mind.
- Setting up my baking each morning has become a calming ritual.
- By following a set of directions, pie gives me focus.
- Now as a baker, I love the feeling of dough in my hands.
- This practice is both spiritual and calming, and has become a walking meditation.
- Even when we have nothing in common, we can meet over pie.
- I had no purpose five years ago, and now I feel needed.
- In pie making, I can share the love inside me with others.
A practitioner of the craft of pie-making, Darlene also teaches others. She is happy that once again people smile when they see her coming.
Darlene’s Favorite Pies
To Make: Huckleberry
To Eat: Blackberry
“Giving them away is what’s it all about for me.“–Darlene