September was always my favorite month at the cottage on Otty Lake. Until all the kids were out of high school and away, I was based in Rochester during that month, but as soon as the “coast was clear” I took off for Canada. Sister Doris, whenever possible, was with me. Like two giddy “high schoolers,” we headed north, sometimes together, more often one of her boys brought her, both one or two weeks together, was our goal.
Mom and Doris looking GREAT for Krissy Hawkes' wedding in 2003
These weeks, or week, were closely planned. If only a week, which was the usual, our plan was clear. Shopping and sightseeing were the norm, and surrounding towns were our goal--Lanark (pop. 1,000?), Smiths Falls (pop. 8,000?), and Perth (pop. 5,000). Allowing a day for each, our second goal was our “kitchen duty.” One year we made and canned chili sauce, one year apple sauce, always we tried “new” recipes we’d clipped through the year. Our favorite, though, was “making pickles”!
Making pickles sounded so laborious but, in truth, the recipe we followed was a simple one. Take a quart jar, cut cucumbers lengthwise to fit, stuff full, add 2 Tablespoons dry mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 4 Tablespoons of sugar, then vinegar to almost cover and ½ to 1 cup of water. Screw lid on and shake often for a week. This we accomplished by placing the jar on the kitchen counter. Each time we passed by on our way to the bathroom, our bed, (for frequent naps), or to go outside, we’d shake it vigorously and upend it! Thus, by visit’s end, we had “made pickles” (and good ones, too)!
Mom and Doris--Looking snazzy in matching shirts (Giant Tiger, anyone??!), 1979
Both these goals, though, easy to understand because we’re TAYLORS, were encompassed in READING TIME! We read early, late, all night, snacked at 2-3 a.m. – whatever occurred, NOTHING interrupted our reading! Yes, we visited and knit as we did so, but I repeat, our READING TIME was sacred!
Two separate events pop into my head, though one, a given for every visit, was that Doris, when she “cased” a store, operated like a vacuum cleaner! She never missed an item – or a bargain! And each of those towns might have only one or two stores of our interest but they were spread miles apart! Therefore, after two or three years of my driving to repeat town stores, because she’d decided she really DID want to buy “such and such,” I ruled that she must make up her mind in one visit, I was not driving all over Canada, even for her!
The second event is our famous “brown sugar tart test”! I am pretty sure I’ve already written that one up for the blog though, so I’ll just content myself with a “memorable moment.” In my mind’s eye I see Doris, lying prone on her back on the couch, book open before her eyes, and on her chest, in a straight line, four brown sugar tarts, just waiting to be eaten! This I see from my vantage point of the green chair, feet on the stool and book on my chest, as awaited my perusal, on the arm of the chair, four brown sugar tarts! We voted at the end—which of these four tarts, from four different stores, were the best, before we both fell asleep!
Mom and Doris again in almost matching shirts, 1979, at the Marble Mines
Yes, we had glorious times together! Made marvelous memories to tide me over these lazy days. Like Uncle Wiggley, maybe the next time I’ll tell you about our “toilet manufacturer quest.”