Recently a student missed a lesson without notice. They had forgotten, I found out when I tracked them down later. Totally spaced it.

“What can we do to make it up to you?” the father said when he left a message on my voice mail. “Pie?”

Pie. I liked this idea.

But I was going to hardly demand a pie. We set up a make-up lesson (it’s summer after all, and the livin’—and schedulin’—is easy) and I nearly forgot about the offer of a pie.

“OK. What kind of pie, sister?” the mother emailed me a few days later. “Peach? Cherry? Apple?”

Summer lessons and summer schedules are often difficult to reconcile.  Thanks to camps and vacations, summer school and swim meets, my teaching schedule has been all over the map for the last two months. The heat alone is enough to make all of us space a few things.

But these are already old problems for sure. Next Sunday begins the fall semester, and even writing this makes me wince. Just when I might get used to these crazy summer teaching hours, just when summer is getting into full gear, just when everyone might remember their piano lesson, the summer is over. The official first day of fall may be weeks away, but around here the season has begun.

Last week my forgetful student and her father arrived for her rescheduled lesson carrying a blueberry pie. “I thought the pie was a joke,” I said.

“We take pie very seriously,” said the father.

So do I. And so, it turns out, do other people.

The day after the pie arrived we left for an overnight to Santa Fe. “This is just to say,” Matt emailed our friend Brad,

“that there is pie in our home.
Homemade blueberry pie
with homemade crust,
that a woman brought Amy
by way of apology that she
had forgotten a piano lesson.
We are going to Santa Fe around noon
and won’t be back until tomorrow.
But the pie is on the kitchen shelf
and the key is in the usual hiding spot
under the flowerpot next to the back gate.
There is also vanilla ice cream
in the icebox.
It is so sweet
and so cold.”

Matthew Carlos Matthews, he signed it.

Turns out, Brad had nothing more to do on a summer morning than compose a response:

“Whose pie this is I think I know
They’re off to Santa Fe tho
They will not see me stopping here
To eat their pie and then to go.
My little Jag must think it queer
To stop without no Greers near
Between Nob Hill and heaven’s gate
The warmest, wettest month this year.
My love for pie will not abate
Despite the many pies I ate
My love for pie is mighty deep
And only pie my cravings sate.
And so to Amy’s house I creep
For I have promises to keep
And pies to eat before I sleep,
And pies to eat before I sleep.”

— Bradley Frost

Meanwhile, Mary Beth, the baker of the much sought-after pie, found time to write, à la Mary Oliver, her own verses:

“…Meanwhile the wild blueberries, as ripe as the clean blue air,
are ready to be baked again.
Whoever you are, no matter how hungry,
the world offers pie to you…

Enjoying our overnight in Santa Fe, I began to get worried that in our absence Brad & Co. had eaten the whole pie. Worried enough that I wrote this haiku:

the blueberry pie
sitting on the kitchen shelf
better not be gone



As for missed piano lessons, this whole thing has inspired a new policy in the Ten Thousand Stars studio. You miss a lesson, you bring pie. Or poems. Or both. Beware, however, as Matt said, his mouth full of pie: the bar has been set really high.