One of my writing groups gathered together Thursday night outside at Ellie and Roger's house, for a whole bunch of reasons—to see their new fireplace, to relish their backyard—one with swallows, fresh mint, poppies, to write a little bit, and to catch up on our lives.
We are women in our 60s, 70s, and, soon, 80s. We're still as active as ever. We've been together for over 30 years. We've found our various passions and those have been expressed in books, stories, essays, poetry. So many publishing credits over that length of time, still more to come.
That self-expression gene is buried deep within us. We are ever so kind now, brilliant on some days and in some ways, genuine as salt. Lots of us are grandmoms, some of us are widows, some of us are caregivers. We always have a pen in hand and a tablet in our pocket.
In our last meeting, we decided that the magnificent dinners we used to prepare and share, were no longer necessary, except for special occasions—defined as when everybody wants one. However, nobody has to do that anymore. It seems to be fine, and freed up some marvelous cooks from those robust expectations. We can do nothing at all, if we chose; we can do those massive celebrations, if we want; or we could settle for a simple, luscious dessert. Maybe some cookies. Or a ripe pear.
We celebrated Judy's essay, that won a major literary prize, in my part of the state, along with some money. We've never written for money, (well, I have, but it wasn't this luscious kind of writing) but I admit, it's plenty welcome, ever so sweet when it comes. Judy's story, which I had heard parts of a while ago, is so clear and clean now. It reads like sparkling water over old stones. It's about a long hike in a high mountain dessert in Australia, one that leads to a startling find, one that never happens any more.
If there is a thing about writing at our age that completely wonderful, it's this: we've gotten to be simpler, quicker-to-the-point writers. That saves us a whole big bunch of literary gyrations, travels down rabbit holes, back tracks, and miswhacks. You have no idea what a big blessing that is.
We wrote a little while about things that are incomplete or unfinished, that might not ever be. I got this line: Love stutters to a stop, parks until Tuesday, when the storm blows over.
So, Ellie's dessert: a baked pear, so simple and so spectacular. Some of my favorite cooking.
Buy 4-6 pears, (one for each person you are serving) round, big-bellied fruits, red pears this, 4-5 days before the party. Let them ripen in a south-facing window. How do you tell when a pear is ripe? When the peeling comes free without difficulty and the juice runs down your fingers.
On the day you want to serve these jewels, peel the pears just before you stick them in the oven. Put them in a baking dish. Mash together butter, honey, an honest vanilla, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, cinnamon. . . or cardamom and ginger. . . Dab that over the fruits.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Put each pear in a bowl and top with the juice/sauce that forms at the bottom of the pan, and top with Greek honey yogurt. Your favorite kind.
This would not be the moment to worry about calories.