By the rivers of Babylon we wept for Zion and bumbleberry pie

The decor is flagrantly Western at Wildcat Willies; to get bumbleberry pie you have to go to the tiny cafe in the adjacent gift shop.

Zion National Park is being loved to death, and the tremendous commercial growth of Springdale, a wannabe Sedona at the park’s southern entrance, is one of the consequences. Yet some things seem not to have changed: You can still get bumbleberry pie in Springdale.

In the 1970s, when my husband and I first drove up to Zion, there were signs for miles around advertising bumbleberry pie, something I’d never heard of but was tempted to taste. The café in Springdale that served it had a silly, forgettable story about the pie and its secret recipe, but the pastry itself, with its rich filing made up of a mysterious combination of fruits, was unforgettable.

When we returned in the 1990s and camped in the park, the café was a full-fledged restaurant, but the pie was still as delicious as we remembered it.

This year, after we were crowded out of Zion, we decided to console ourselves with a piece of bumbleberry pie. Alas, everything was changed. Now there was a Bumbleberry Inn, a Bumbleberry Motel, Bumbleberry Gifts, a Bumbleberry Bakery, and a Bumbleberry Theatre. There was also a new Wildcat Willies [sic] on the premises, now a pricy restaurant with Western décor where drinks are served in Mason jars, the service is ridiculously slow, and the pizza is superb.

To get a piece of bumbleberry pie for dessert we had to go to a tiny café in the adjacent gift shop. The story that came with it was as silly as ever (though a Google search turns up a plethora of bumbleberry pie recipes, most of them using blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and apples).

But this time the pie was a poor ghost of the fragrant treat we remembered. Heraclitus might have said something about not being able to bite into the same pie twice. But for us, losing Zion and the bumbleberry pie on the same day seemed an awful lot to bear.


Text and photo copyright 2010 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photo may be used without written permission of the author.

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One Response to “By the rivers of Babylon we wept for Zion and bumbleberry pie”

  1. Donna Chicago Says:

    Truly lamentable, Esther. A nice account — it’s sure to strike a chord with many.

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