April 5, 2014
I did the Genehouse walk this fine, sunny afternoon. The tree buds are thickening and jonquils and daffodils are abloom and the Final Four was coming up, on CBS. I stopped to see Farmer Orville. He was working in the blackberry field, pruning branches and tying up spindly trunks. I asked if I could help.
“I perty much work on my own,” Orville said. “I’d be a son of a bitch to work with. I have my ways and I’m stubborn. Reba (the herding dog), don’t climb on Gene. The wife, she comes out here and tells me how everything I worked at for hours is done wrong.”
Fortunately for my friend, Quilt Queen was in the house, napping, blissfully unaware.
“And your reply?” I asked.
“Don’t reply—that’s the secret,” Orville said. “Make like you’re deaf. She’ll go away eventually.” He pointed to a magnolia tree, which was about to bloom. “That is a stupid magnolia.”
“Why is it stupid?”
“It always blooms two weeks premature and then the last frost gets it. I got one stalk of asparagus out in the field and my rhubarb is half up. You like rhubarb, Gene?”
“I do,” I said. “Though, it is a travesty to mix rhubarb with strawberries, pie-wise.”
“Oh, yes,” Orville said solemnly, dreamily. “I will eat strawberry rhubarb in a pinch—I ain’t dumb—but pure rhubarb like my mom used to make, that is heaven.
I love rhubarb jam, rhubarb butter, rhubarb pie. I like saying, “rhubarb.” I have some Indian lectures coming up, on the road. The worst part of staying with kind people is being offered pie and barbeque. I have to eat it; I’m nice, after all. It’s not my fault, I told my friend.
“Well,” Orville replied, “that gets you off the hook, morally. Blame the weight on bein nice, meanwhile the body gets the pie.”
What is the way to world peace? The body gets the pie. Soul singer James Brown felt good . . . because his body got the pie. Vladimir Putin might not be an asshole if his body got the pie. The Tea Party might unclench their pale buttocks, on pie. You wouldn’t get a brain, on pie, ask Sara Palin. But we could domesticate her, on pie, docile her up.
Stephen Hawking, Sir Arthur Eddington, Euclid, Pythagoras, Miley Cyrus, Ken Jennings: What is the meaning of life?
“People are like a forest of human magnolias, blooming before the last frost.” Socrates, “Ruminations on Rhubarb, Hold the Strawberries.”
All together now: “Pie!”