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Brothers and sisters--I bring you big news from the universe, the simple gospel truth. Right now. A PIE. Yes, at this moment, hot strawberry-peach pie is coming out of Jan's oven like the steamy angel of love. Can you feel it? The pie is a calling, a summons to gather in shared acts of delight. Ed, the happy spouse of pie-creator Jan, is even as we speak, taking Mountain Valley Vanilla Custard out of the freezer to soften to the peak of creaminess.

Gradually friends arrive, following the tug toward the kitchen. A small collection of humans, on some day in the country--this is news, you're thinking? This tiny event? Just five unknowns--Ricardo, Lou, Robin, and of course, Jan and Ed. Midwestern, yet.

Who are they? What are they doing--simply having pie together in the midst of a crazy, dangerous world-at-large. Do any of them realize their possible insignificance, their sheer vulnerability in the big picture? Do they know what science has discovered: humans are composed of so much empty space that each of us, compressed into actual matter, will fit into only one tablespoon? No. Does the rush of Time, the promise of Mortality seem to haunt them? No. They share the same properties as stars or the sun--they give off more light and heat with each passing year.

Actually there will be two pies: Pie #1, a pause, then later: Pie #2, though no one reveals this fact out loud. Chuck, the cat, feels the electricity and plans his strategy for his very own saucer of soupy ice cream. He’s home-bound now, an indoor cat. Why? To protect him from hunters' traps in the woods that killed his running mates. He chews at the hair on his legs. This is his habit, as he tries to domesticate his wild nature. Chuck sticks close by the table, ears up, lips slightly parted, pink tip of tongue, ready.

Can you imagine how the first pie slides onto the table? Everyone is tuned to the edge of their senses, in a heaven especially intense for it is to be shared right there in the full voyeurism of mid-day. Yes, not even a hint of darkness falling. The whole back yard and its creatures are alert to the promise of their humans' pie-ceremony. Gaudy daffodils inspire the sodden earth. Cardinals thrill the air.

Inside Jan deftly slices the warm pie, the strawberry-peach blend drifting a bit from beneath cross-stitched crisp brown-sugared strips onto the white-porcelain plates. Friends sit so close their thighs emanate heat beneath the table, and when someone says something funny or teases, they bump for a moment as they laugh, tingling their molecules. As the vanilla custard makes its rounds, each has their special way of placing ice cream on their slice, some off to the side so it will slowly slide into the pie, others plop it right on top, going for immediate contact. Except Ricardo: “Just plain pie, please, no ice cream.” Only when every one is served do they slowly move toward the first touch. Soon there is a silence broken only by raptures of ooohs, sighs, long gazes into each other's eyes, then "O, Jan, O, Jan" breaks from their lips as "Yes, Yes," for without her pie, this moment would have been forever lost to them, and they know it.

Chuck, the cat, waits, chewing off more of the hair on his lower legs as if they are covered with hummingbird tortes--or sardines—or soft custard. He stalks his legs, then savors them until they are wet and naked. Everyone is eating.

In this half hour, and before the second pie, several species will go extinct; like deforested saplings, 2 kids will be cut down by gunshots, rare pregnant whales will be rammed to death by indifferent ships; howling polar bear parents watch their pups drown, ancient glaciers suffer nervous melt-downs; more prozac valium atavan oxycontin ambien lunesta effexor is being flushed into our water resources, and so much viagra that several puff fish and old turtles are presently experiencing 4 hour erections; throngs of innocent bananas, those firm-fleshed moon-crescent curvacious wonders of potassium are being plastic bag pesticide gassed and gassed into felonies of perfection for a phony shelf life; and millions more once trustworthy strawberries, our real sweet-heart red-dimpled munchkins, elfin tease of nectar spooned onto fluffy shortcake or mashed for our baby, yes, strawberries: heaven’s ruby-throated morsels are becoming PCB flouro-carbon Hell-ravaged cancer ward enabling midgets of mass destruction, miniature Cassandra fruits of doom.

But our friends, for a brief moment, are not afraid of their strawberries and are even using tap water for their tea. They are refugees among special Midwest kitchen sensations of warm pie. Softly melted ice cream seeps between bites, loosening each slice into a rush beyond words. Everyone senses the temperature slowly cool in the final moments from which they look up at each other, shyly, satisfied enough, in the pause between pies, to search the gooey remains of their intelligence for some sociable comment that might redeem them. But why bother, everyone's cheeks are flushed, their eyes warm, their timing perfect, all together. Each knows, somewhere deep, that this sharing, this love is also ecology, a direct service to creation. On this good afternoon, they are an Environmental Protection Act as practical as crushing cans, lowering emissions, or sending money to the rainforests.

True, dire differences of values and tribal wars of style have come up. Ed says to Ricardo, "How can you possibly not like ice cream with pie--is that normal?" Ricardo shoots back: "Well, Ed, it's too way too wet and sloppy your way." A bitter difference! Would they go outside for a duel, these two men, or tight-lipped stalk off or raise their voices in brittle conflict to ruin the day? Hearts palpitate, stress hormones stream. Outdoors, the surrounding land, imminent buds and wakening trees wait with baited breath for the expected debacle. Then Ed simply responds: "O," and puts a saucer down for Chuck, the cat: "Hey, thanks, Ricardo. Guess that just leaves more ice cream for the rest of us!" And it was over. Unbelievable. What a moment! Deescalation. Two opposing views have survived together in the company of humans!

The energy of their affection drifts outdoors, pollinating the neighborhood, so infectious they inspire one disturbed goldfinch to go off its meds and a gang of morose young bees to stop over-dosing amongst the daffodils. The entire back yard and its creatures relax in relief--this is truly an Earth Day, a call to celebrate their faith in us as their companions. They understand the fear that in our deepest nature lies a sting, a murderous seed of the future branded by a thumb that grasps and grasps and cocks to kill.

But the backyard's major historian and ace researcher, the old Maple, knows for a fact that the dominant act of early humans during scarcity and famine was generosity, not greed and killing. Ancient warring tribes truly gathered to share. So it excited hope among the wildlife all around to see friends re-enacting the fount of their early nature. They know Ed is reaching deep into the origins of being when he heads for the freezer and says, "I'll get us another quart of custard." As he opens its cold, tight cover with his opposable thumb, creation basks in the presence of these delicious folks who are again about to practice safe pie and mellow ice cream.


All images, artwork and text © 2011 Louisa Loveridge Gallas

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