In 2001, my husband George and I took a wonderful road trip to Nova Scotia. One of the many enjoyable things for us on the trip was eating fresh seafood, which was not as readily or inexpensively available at home. One afternoon we were in a small café where George ordered yet another lobster, and a woman about our age came in dressed in biking gear. George never met a stranger and struck up a conversation with her. She was on the final leg of a bicycle trip from west to east across Canada. We had never heard of such an endeavor and she spent time educating us on the many bicycle trips she had made all over the world. She was a character, and when she discovered that we were from Indiana, she regaled us with stories about RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, which takes seven days and is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. Her view was that if we were from the Midwest, we must be “good people” as Iowans were the best. She told George about a woman in Iowa who chased her down the street with a piece of pie and said it was the best pie she had ever eaten. It was an oatmeal pie and very different from anything she was familiar with and she said that the Iowa woman who baked it had given her the recipe. George said he loved pie of all sorts and would like to have the recipe. We were really surprised when a couple of months later we received the recipe for the oatmeal pie with a note that she had returned safely home from her trip.
Fast forward to the present. George died in the spring of 2017. I spent the months that followed going through a lot of stored documents, and smiled when I discovered her letter and the recipe for the oatmeal pie. My daughter and her husband were visiting and thought the recipe looked fantastic. I hate to admit that I never made it for George, but I hadn’t. So in honor of George and because we were all so curious, we made the oatmeal pie and it was delicious. I did a google search on her name and found several articles from the Oregon paper in her town that led me to believe she was still alive and still involved in bicycling. I wrote to her at the address on her 2001 note, not knowing if it was still current, but wanting her to know that all these years later she was remembered fondly and that I had baked the pie. And a few weeks ago, I got a return note. She’s planning to stop and see me at some point when she’s back in the Midwest. I can hardly wait to bake that pie for her visit.
By Barbara Whittaker