Little Miss Canadienne
I had my first ice skates when I was 2. They were white with white laces and were emblazoned with “Little Miss Canadienne” in gold script on the ankle. They were single blades and well worn. They are one of the only things that I still have from my childhood and they are treasured.
Whenever I come across them I am reminded of life in New England in the winter. Everybody had ice skates. It’s like getting school shoes. I had two ponds in my neighborhood. One was overflow of a stream and used for hockey – only. The other was large enough to share with skaters. We all played hockey and we all skated. We played Red Rover, rode massive whips, carved the perfect figure 8 and the best – the obstacle courses. We used rocks, logs, huge branches, snow or whatever we could find to skate around, jump over or scooch under. (Note: My Mom wasn’t going to Target to find a kit!) We skated every single day. When I was 8, the neighborhood Dads got together and put up giant lights all around the big pond– like at a football game – Friday Night Lights! It was magical.
Each Mom in had a sound she used to call the kids home for dinner. Some had bells, a few had ship’s horns, another had a gong and one even blew the sax. We had one of those long, skinny plastic horns – remember those? Sounds sort of like the shell at a luau? Or angry cow? Either way, that was our call and we’d better step on it.
When I see those little skates, I also see my Mom opening our back door always greeting me with “Bonjour, Little Miss Canadienne.” At the same time, I have an immediate, almost emotional sense memory of the smell of her wintertime kitchen. Nutmeg, allspice, bay, oregano, garlic, Gruyere, wine – mmmm. I smell spice cake, a roast, chowder, sausage and sweet peppers, buttery macaroni and cheese, congo bars… they all met me at the door when I got home. I know that’s why I love when my house smells of dinner cooking.
This week’s dishes are a nod to my memories and all our family, pals and members toughing it out Back East. I miss you all, I miss the falling snow, I miss the quiet of the heavy snow in the morning – and I’ll miss skating at Madison Springs and Horsepond tonight.