Her family cottage in the Muskokas is 80 years old (and now her own).

She just turned 50 years old.

And I have known them both for 30 of those. Time is marching on.

There really is a heaven on earth. And still when I return from that yearly cottage visit, I live back in that place for some days to follow. The peace lingers in my head and heart. The sandy beach still in my shoes. Before children, the gatherings were boisterous and sleepless and so many more people. First, we were all celebrating the end of another set of final exams at uni. And then we were coming together from farther afield as our lives moved beyond our various Bachelors of smartness. The floors were liberally covered with bodies. We stacked them like cord wood.

This past visit was so much more quiet. Only us. And her birthday milestone on Thursday was just taken in passing. But the visit was no less special. No less beautiful. I suppose we are mellowing. Those louder, crowded days are not forgotten. We still talk about them plenty and with each telling, the details grow softer, more sepia-ed, more caramelized. This time we reminisced about the mouth watering menus, well recorded and still kept. Now filed in her basement in a box called Miscellaneous. Miscellaneous? I didn’t think so! 🙂 Why, I have kept all those menus too and mine are stored in Box #9 in a file called Cottage Parties. Hosting was her job and feeding the masses was mine. It seems my love for food, menu planning, banqueting, anything involving gathering people for dining has been smoldering inside since the beginning of time.


This menu here, some 25 or so years old, was in the earlier days of the big get-togethers and meant to tantalize the palate and budget of enterprising, but poor students and recent grads. I would shop 5 grocery stores foraging out the best specials. An effort that could rival Ron Eade’s Omnivore’s Ottawa Thursday morning grocery posts. Loblaws, Steinbergs, A&P, IGA and Dominion. Sometimes the Top Banana and Bunsmasters too. The steaks were always from The Butchery in Bells Corners. The corn picked from a roadside stand on the way out of town. Maybe as far out as Highway 60. I have all the receipts to prove it. This particular long weekend was an expensive one. It cost each party goer $15 for their cottage meal plan. I cringed at the idea of having been so extravagant but they all paid up without duress. Oh, how I always worried about the pricing. To guarantee no waste, the quantity of food was planned to the tablespoon. As a gesture, I would throw in free dental floss to cope with the corn on the cob!

The cottage is 80 and she is 50 and I am not. Time is marching on.
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