Having a day off in the middle of the week is nothing short of luxurious -- a walk down Bloor, the Holt Renfrew window displays already set up for Christmas. 2010 is almost over. I'm relieved in a way, but sad, too. This year has been split right down the middle, one side revealing heads and the other tales. A little girl walked behind me with her father tonight and debated whether it was raining or snowing. "It's snowing," she said. "Raining," he said. "Snow and rain," she said. "Snow with rain," he responded playfully. That sounds about right.
No, I relaxed on Remembrance Day. I sipped on peach juice as though I were eight years old, debating over bath towels. Peach juice reminds me of being at Colasanti, cider doughnut in one hand and peach juice in the other, apple picking in the fall. It has that kind of power, so be weary next time you opt for it. I heard they no longer make those doughnuts, and the peach juice is likely too sweet, but it makes me smile wide anyway. I bought a head of butter lettuce at my neighbourhood grocer and stared at a package of dried cherries for longer than was necessary wondering if it would be a very good idea to add them to my morning granola (delectable) or a very, very bad idea (another expensive staple to add to my increasing list of so-called must-haves.) I passed, but it seems nothing is ever too extravagant when it comes to breakfast around these parts, so don't be surprised if you find me spooning some into my cereal on some lofty morning. Local wild blossom honey? Fresh pecans? Cocoa nibs? Roasted ground cinnamon? The good yogurt? Whatever it takes to beck and call me out of bed at 7am makes me weak in the knees (and quick with the hands.)
Despite enjoying Thursday -- both gorgeous and turbulent -- I've struggled with writing this post. Anything I have to say regarding Remembrance Day sounds forced and ultimately pretty trite. All I can do is tell you that it means something to me that it might not to someone else. When I see someone standing with a tray of poppies, my heart skips a beat and there I am, handing over a five spot. It means something that men and women died, that people went off to territory unknown and did so voluntarily or involuntarily, in defense of something as amorphous as freedom. And so I listened to Amos Lee and went for long walks and generally reflected in that way that keeps you up at night. It's that time again, between Halloween and Christmas, fully ambivalent. Not quite autumn anymore and not quite winter. It's a good time to go nostalgic, as far as I can tell.
I went back to my hometown this weekend in celebration of what would have been my great-grandmother's 100th birthday. I was six when she died, and don't remember much of her, but I do recall my mother dropping off her groceries with my sister and I in tow. There was never a shortage of jelly beans. I ate the orange and yellow ones as she doused her TV dinner in salt before tucking in, and she tried to convince me how great the black ones were. Now I'm the one eating black jelly beans.
In November, there are things to remember and memories to be made. We sat around the dinner table -- more of us around that table than there have been in years -- and ate like champs. Some of us drank like champs, too, but I, dear readers, was not one of those unlucky individuals who nursed hangovers the following day and forcefully denied it.
Walking through a graveyard, at least for me, means digging up bones and searching for ghosts. But in a way we're all still together around that table, except that some of us tread a little lighter and kindly leave the wine for the rest of us to imbibe.
Perhaps one of those graves is that of a little girl you never really got to know. When mentioned, it moves someone to tell you a story, one that you keep to yourself because it's one of those intimate stories so powerful it doesn't require repeating. But I can say that little girl is the prettiest of those ghosts because those still with us speak of her with a level of beautiful, heart-wrenching care and adoration you'd think stretches far beyond the human potential to love. And because they cannot remember us, we will remember for all of them.
Because I'm of a rye-drinking clan -- how Canadian! -- I'm handing over a classic recipe. The other is an old-timey kind of dessert that's been tinkered with, one that's simple and comforting -- two words totally necessary at this time of year.
Rye and Ginger
Yields 1 drink
1.5oz (rye) whisky
3oz gingerale (preferably made with cane sugar)
Dash of bitters (optional)
Pour whiskey and gingerale over ice in a rocks or highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Bananas and Milk
1 frozen banana, sliced prior to freezing
Splash of milk
Combine banana and milk in a food processor or blender, and pulse until the banana takes on the look and mouthfeel of soft serve ice cream. Eat or serve immediately, garnished with nuts if desired.