This weekend I was near little Bedford, PA for a church retreat. I always look forward to this annual event, because it is a weekend spent in woodsy tranquility, amidst rolling hills that look like something out of a Thomas Hart Benton painting. We cradle mugs of warm something in our hands all day, we pull out the sweaters that have been dormant all summer, we sit on rocking chairs and get to know each others' weekday selves. Let us really relax, and there might even be some square dancing.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday some of us went to the Jean Bonnet Tavern (est. circa 1762, French pronunciation optional). In the sun-filled tavern, seated at high oak tables, I enjoyed the best pumpkin ale I've ever had; it had a lot more spice than I expected. I also tried something so simple that I would never have thought of it: Oatmeal Pie. It consists, quite simply, of oatmeal baked in a pie crust. I was skeptical until the first maple-syrupy bite. Rural PA, sometimes you have your moments of brilliance.


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