Reflections on the uses of rhubarb

My housewifely pride escalated to dizzying heights last Sunday when I lifted the strawberry/rhubarb crumble pie out of my oven.

My housewifely pride escalated to dizzying heights last Sunday when I lifted the strawberry/rhubarb crumble pie out of my oven.

As I set the still warm concoction carefully on the counter, it oozed juice and perfection equally and I was happy.

Incredibly, the pie tasted as ridiculously delicious as it looked.

Unfortunately, while I was in this state of domestic goddess bliss, loving the pie and myself with equal fervor, I greedily consumed two generous pieces. It wasn’t until later when my tummy protested that it was full, way too full, that I remembered to do the math.

Calories in/calories out!

I thought of the treadmill and how it would need to become my best friend for a really long time if I was to make any attempt at balancing out the number of calories that are, no doubt, in two pieces of rhubarb, strawberry crumble pie.

I felt sad. Full, but sad! I chastised myself, thinking I probably should not have used an old fashioned recipe that called for butter, sugar, white flour and sour cream in such generous quantities. I may be wrong, but I’m thinking none of those ingredients equate to any kind of weight loss.

I’m not sure what it is about spring and rhubarb that stirs that domestic feeling in me, making me want to slip into my kitchen and concoct something, anything containing the magic ingredient of rhubarb.

I mean I don’t even own a rhubarb patch.

It’s sad, really.

When I was a kid, we had rhubarb. Actually, I think everybody had rhubarb. However, I would venture to say, even though I really don’t have scientific proof, that we had the best rhubarb in town. True, the town I’m referring to was small, the ‘blink and you miss it’ kind of small, and we never won any prizes with our rhubarb or anything, but some things you just know.

We also, actually, had the best yard in town. And it wasn’t because it was all manicured and pretty. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

But the yard, which in reality was filled with quack grass, and hedged with overgrown carragana bushes, was a place where imagination lived and laughed and played for as long as the seasons of our childhood lasted. In that yard, ball fields and football fields were created, and great athletic feats were achieved, the like of which no one since has dared lay claim to.

Our rhubarb was really cool, too!

I drove by that yard the other day. The rhubarb was gone and so, on that field of dreams, were the kids that played there so long ago. Me. My brothers. My sister.

I drive on, responding to the ever beckoning call of adulthood and the present.

But, even though shades of the past have slipped into the background where they belong, I still wanted some rhubarb. And I still wanted to create something fragrant and delicious.

Luckily, my daughter has lots of rhubarb so a trip to the rhubarb patch meant a visit with her as well.

Sitting in cozy leather chairs in her newly created book room, with her little white mongrel mutt curled up on my lap like he belonged there, we sip coffee and chat companionably. I listened to my grandson softly strumming his guitar in the background. Outside the window, a misplaced wild rose bush blooms in accidental splendor and I feel a rush of unexpected joy.

It’s good. And, really, surprisingly, it has nothing to do with the rhubarb.

Or does it?