Happy Labor Day/Labour Day to fellow North Americans!
The weather is lovely today in my little corner of the world–sunny with a light breeze and the temperature is hovering in the low twenties Celsius.
My brother and sister-in-law left for the airport just before noon to fly back west from their two-week visit with me, and I miss them already. My newly-married daughter and her hubby departed last evening for Halifax, and my son and his wonderful girlfriend have gone to her new apartment to unpack more moving boxes. That means….ta-dah…I am alone….completely and utterly alone, for the first time in quite a few weeks.
I filled the dishwasher and it is now washing away; I began to fill garbage bags for pick-up day tomorrow, and I just poured myself a small glass of wine to sip while I write. Can you hear the quiet around me? Can you feel it? Feels good, doesn’t it?
I know that school starts for kiddies big and small on Wednesday, and the local university has already welcomed its frosh students through its doors, so I’m sure that our drugstores, supermarkets, liquor store, and restaurants are seeing a boom in their sales this weekend. The cross-walks in town are busy once again, too, and traffic halts for the endless procession of students that cross to and from the university’s cafeteria building.
If families didn’t move home yesterday they are packing up from their cottages and trailers today, and children complain that summer didn’t last long enough and they really need more time to play. Parents, meanwhile, count down the hours until Wednesday morning when their offspring will leave for the day wearing their new first-day-of-school outfits and backpacks. The weather stations have forecast rain for Wednesday but I hope they are wrong; they often are, so odds are the morning of Sept 5 will dawn bright and sunny, and children won’t be burdened down with jackets or raincoats.
For me, September means that I will enjoy any last days of cottage-weather as it happens and will likely flit back and forth between cottage and home throughout the month.
September also means that I’m going to try my hand again at making pickled beets and mustard pickles, labors of love that I haven’t done now for several years. My husband always helped me prepare the beets for cooking and helped cut up the onions, cauliflower, red pepper, celery, and cucumbers for the pickles, and since he died I haven’t been able to face those chores alone. But this fall I’m going to try. My son has offered to help me with the prep work, and I know that my daughter will lend a hand as well if she doesn’t have a new job lined up when I begin the process, so between the three of us we will make this happen. It will be nice to taste home-made sweet mustard pickles this winter with Shepherd’s Pie or with meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and pickled beets are, of course, great with just about any down-home meal.
I’ll use my mother’s recipe for the beets and my mother-in-law’s recipe for the mustard pickles, but I’ll add my own special touches to them that make them my own; I’ll change the amount of sugar to add to the pickles or will throw a few extra whole cloves into the bottles of beets. Throughout the generations, as my family and countless other families have passed down the tradition of ‘fall pickling’, recipes have probably evolved and changed a bit at a time to reflect the latest cook’s personal tastes and preferences.
Maybe I’ll share pictures of my labors of love in another post, just to prove to you (and to me), that I followed through with my plans to pickle select farm-fresh vegetables and store them in my basement to enjoy this coming winter.
I hope ‘pickling’ is like riding a bicycle; I hope I don’t add cloves to the mustard pickles or pearl onions to the bottles of beets by mistake. But even if I do manage to screw this up, I think that Gary would be proud of me for just trying. And I’ll take pictures!
Happy Labor Day!