Olivia Lipkin appreciates pie the way a fish appreciates water. The enigmatic explorer does not usually meet with journalists, but something I said on the morning of the interview must have given her an opening, or maybe it was the August breeze that stills the heart with its reassurance that the most oppressive part of summer is over, and that the day will be long enough for all things. We sat on the shaded veranda of town’s only cafe, her berry-stained white blouse fluttering as she revealed, always close to tears, her story.
Star: So, tell me about your last pie.
Olivia: Oh I can still taste it now! I hardly know how to describe it except to say it was magic. It brought me face to face with the essence, as if time stopped and I melted with the first bite into a dream. You know when you’re full of doubt and then you taste pie and everything settles? You go to this special place, your whole world self-organizes, then you come out in peace. That was that pie.
S: Wow, what kind of pie was it?
O: It was the kind that holds all of summer, and speaks quietly but reveals adventures if you listen carefully. It was not a simple pie, quite complex actually.
S: But I mean what was in it?
O: There was a certain panic or maybe heartbreak from the experience making it, but love of course, full of love. Sorry I think I’m going to cry thinking about it. I can’t even believe it’s gone. I ate it all!
S: You certainly loved that pie. But, was it a cherry pie or what?
O: No, blackberries! There’s a patch I had known about and last month I couldn’t wait any longer and I just needed to go pick them.
S: Tell me about how you made the pie.
O: Well, I got all my gear together and made the trip. There I was, facing these thorns all alone – millions of thorns. I started around the edges, tentative at first. All that was going just fine, but I felt this intense calling.
S: Not to go inside?
O: Yes, I had to.
S: What equipment did you use?
O: I had brought my bowl, but I didn’t think to bring food and water, can you imagine? Luckily as a girl I used to devour survival literature, so I remembered to bring rice.
O: Yes, I put the grains of rice in a line so I could find my way out. I had picked almost the whole bowl full, and was getting deeper and deeper in. There were thorns everywhere and I just remember things started swirling and I couldn’t distinguish berry juice from blood. I was actually inside the beast! – the beast that intoxicated me, and I couldn’t find my way out.
S: Oh no! What about the trail of rice?
O: I guess Gretel’s technique was not actually so effective now that I think of it. No one heard my cries of pain, and I thought I was going to die there. But on the third day I had a startling epiphany that would ultimately save my life: I could eat the blackberries themselves in order to survive.
S: Good thinking!
O: That definitely gave me strength. What probably kept me going the most though was the love of that future pie that was already being conceived through this harrowing experience. And I never gave up hope that there would be uncharted waterways that would make rescue by boat possible.
S: Did you get rescued in the end?
O: No I just kept going, being stabbed endlessly from all directions, wishing I had remembered to bring shoes, and finally when I was close to giving up, I saw light.
S: A testament to perseverance. How long was the journey?
O: It’s anyone’s guess – but I’ll always insist it was at least 18 feet.
S: And now that you have recovered, do you have more adventures planned?
O: Not til the pie calls me. I’m just the servant.