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Labun Jordan: Black Fly Pie

This time of year is known to many as black fly season. For others, it’s rhubarb pie season. And for the lucky few – it’s black fly pie season.

There’s no recipe for black fly pie. And it doesn’t contain actual black flies. No, these are the pies entered into the annual pie contest at the Adamant Black Fly Festival, to be judged on taste and the degree to which they honor the black fly theme. Then, slices are sold as a fundraiser for the Adamant Co-op.

Three years ago, my oval-shaped chocolate chess pie with fanned biscotti wings and licorice legs took first place in a surprise upset, beating out the flying pudding pies shot from a potato gun. I was robbed the next year when I failed to place with my black fly swarm pie, which featured handmade chocolate covered cherries with nonpareil wings filling a bottom crust. This year, I’m making another attempt at the title.

Usually, my volunteer activities don’t go like this. Usually, there’s no talk of prizes. That’s because, usually, my urge to contribute runs well ahead of my actual helpfulness. There was the habitat for humanity trip where I was demoted to pulling old nails from boards slated for the junkyard, then demoted off the construction site entirely when I kept getting scratched by the nails… or the time I used the wrong color paint on my section of the fire station walls… and t he trip to the emergency room when I helped at the grill for a community cookout. But when my best friend fired me from volunteering at her events, that really hurt.

Baking is different. Baking is my saving grace as a volunteer. Sweet, savory, whatever’s needed I’m available. And I work hard to keep my skills up to snuff. My triple fudge brownies are the best in Vermont. It’s true - they come from an engineer friend of m ine who conducted a series of experiments to determine how to maximize fudginess. I chucked my mother’s apple pie recipe when I read a scientific analysis that revealed how to achieve a truly flaky butter crust. And while I’m not going to reveal this year’s black fly pie plan, I will say it involves a lot of practice making roses from frosting – and - chocolate.

Like many volunteers, I do have other skills - even a resume. But it’s one thing to recruit an accountant to look over an organization’s budget, and quite another thing to know he’s also an excellent gardener, someone who’d do a great job with the flower beds in the center of town. That second half is what a community organization can do naturally, while larger organizations find it more challenging. It shows that you know your neighbors, and value all of what they’re able to contribute, as individuals with multiple talents. Those kinds of connections make it easy to talk me into helping out. And, okay, the blue ribbons don’t hurt either.