Last May, a young woman named Mallori from Fogler’s Greenhouse in Lake Orion called. “This is our first spring at this location. The end of July we’ll bring in produce for a farmer’s market.”

“That’s fabulous! I’ve shopped Fogler’s on Rochester Road for years.”

“Do you have lavender products for sale for our market? And would you present a summer lavender workshop for our customers?”

I said yes to the workshop and explained, “I’m sorry, I don’t make lavender products for sale any longer, but I can offer a healthy patch of organic Ruby Red rhubarb.”

“We’ll take it!”

“I’ll deliver the bundles with leaves. They make beautiful bouquets.”

Every delivery sold out.

Seems I’m not the only child who craves her mother’s strawberry rhubarb pie come spring. This low-maintenance crop contributes to a well-established tradition many Michiganders hold dear.

This May, Mallori called again. I gladly gathered my baskets and discovered I had no rubber bands for bundling. Possessing a smidgen of my mother’s resourcefulness, I used jute and baker’s twine to tie a bow around the bundles. Much prettier than a rubber band, I thought.

As I bound the sour food, I mused about how much easier rhubarb is to grow and harvest than lavender. Little did I know when I planted twenty-four Ruby Red crowns in memory of Mom’s mouth-watering pie that someday I’d carry the abundance to market.

It’s fascinating how repetitive work frees the mind and heart to wander and wonder. When I tied the two ends of twine, looped the right side over my left index finger and pinched it with my right index finger and thumb, I recalled my mother hovering over my shoulder, coaching me how to tie my black and white saddle shoes. Again.

After several failures, I achieved the second loop with the left lace around the pinched loop, and the third part of pushing the left lace through the second loop and pulling both loops tightly into a bow.

I can only imagine Mom’s relief. Perhaps that was a day she made a strawberry-rhubarb pie to celebrate our mutual victory. The second of five daughters, my three younger sisters waited in future’s cue with their saddle shoes for Mom’s lesson.

Good reason to roll dough.

Last Sunday, I shared my first strawberry-rhubarb pie of the season with a friend and her family. I reserved the last piece for my youngest daughter and drove to her house with my p.j.’s and toothbrush.

“Brought you a slice of Nana’s strawberry-rhubarb pie.”

“Thanks, Mom, but I can’t eat it because of surgery tomorrow morning,” she said and put her gift in the fridge.

The following afternoon, I asked my convalescent, “Do you remember the shoes you wore when you learned to tie your laces?”

“My favorite brown saddle shoes. You taught me, remember?”


Dear Reader, thanks to Mallori, Mom’s strawberry-rhubarb pie is eternally tied to two generations of saddle shoes, comfort and tradition.

This makes the flavor all the more desirable and delicious.

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