Friday, 19 September 2014

Autumn in Ontario

A recent blog about the cool weather we’ve had this September garnered a response from a reader in San Diego, California, where the temperature has been steadily in the nineties. It made me think about how much I love autumn, and how much I’d miss the change of seasons if I lived in the south.

Though I could do without the winter and its unpredictability, I’d have to keep a white Christmas. This got me thinking about autumn and some of my favourite fall memories.

One of my favourite was the closing weekend at my in-laws’ cottage. In Canada our Thanksgiving is in early October when the weather is still quite nice, and this weekend is historically closing weekend for summer cottages, trailers and such.

The men would work to pull the boat, and the dock, from the water. It’s risky leaving the dock in when the lake will freeze. The pressure of the ice during the winter can push the dock up onto the shore causing much damage to both.

While the men worked the women prepared the Thanksgiving feast. Roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade cranberry sauce, and so more I can’t remember. My grandmother-in-law was a baker and her job was to make the pumpkin pies and the butter tarts.

My responsibility was apple pies, and I had to make two because of a difference of opinion with my father-in-law. I said apple pie with cinnamon; he said nutmeg, so it was one of each. 

My brother-in-law started a tradition of having a half slice of each kind of pie. I remember the first time he asked and other voices immediately spoke up claiming the other half of each of his slices. The pies were all cut in smaller pieces after that to accommodate.

The cottage wasn’t very big, the table lucky if it sat six, so card tables were set up for the kids. I remember the jokes with my brother-in-law (same one) who never seemed to graduate to the adult table, but preferred entertaining the next generation as he reigned over the kids table.

We’d rake leaves into huge piles that the kids would jump into, scattering them over the yard once again. And after dinner we’d take a long walk along the shore, enjoying roadside visits with neighbours we’d not see until spring.

Those were good times. The cottage was sold after my father-in-law’s passing, and the family is now scattered. But always, there are the memories.

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