Later this month will mark three years since Mom died.
Because I moved away from home over 30 years ago, Mom was not directly involved in my day-to-day life for many years. So it makes sense, I guess, that it's when we go to PEI that I miss her most. It still seems so strange that she is not there.
The strangest part of all, of course, is that we don't stay at the farm anymore, and we never will again. But it's the littler things that constantly jar me. Even when we were making plans for our trip this summer, I kept thinking of how in the past she and I would talk on the phone in advance: she would write down our arrival date and say, "Dad and I are going for groceries -- what should we get? Do the kids still like apple juice? Cheerios? Chicken nuggets?" I always said she didn't need to worry, that we could buy what we needed when we got there! But she always wanted to be prepared with some of the kids' favourites.
And of course she would make some fresh scones for us to enjoy when we arrived. (Her oatmeal date scones were legendary, so much so that when the funeral home asked what we'd like to put on the blank page of her funeral bulletin, the answer seemed obvious: her scone recipe. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR RECIPE.)
Going shopping at Value Village by myself still seems weird too. Mom and I would always make a point of going together. Besides looking for stuff for ourselves, she would ask me to pick a few things up for the kids as their birthday presents and she'd pay for them.
This summer the "Mom's not here" moment involved ice cream. Dad enjoys going for drives and so do we, so one beautiful afternoon we decided to drive up to the north shore and use our Canada 150 pass to get into the National Park. Richard persuaded Allison to come along on this drive by promising that we'd stop for Cows ice cream at the Cavendish Boardwalk.
As usual, Allison and I were tasked with going in and getting the ice cream for everybody. As we stood in line deciding out what we wanted, I had this sense that something wasn't quite right. We were getting three dishes because that's how Dad, Jonathan, and I prefer to eat our ice cream. But why were we only getting two cones? Had we miscalculated? Then immediately I thought, Of course; it's because Mom's not here. Richard and Allison prefer their ice cream in a cone, and so did Mom. She was the most adamant of all that that was the only way to eat it! But now we were only getting two cones, not three.
Sometimes it's not the big moments -- like kids' graduations and holidays -- that make us miss someone most. Instead it can be the simplest things. Like ice cream.
Cows' Chocolate Cheesecake ice cream
After I posted this today, my friend Tim Fall asked if I would also post the scone recipe. (He also said he'd have been tempted to call this post "Of cones and scones" -- which is pretty good!) So here is the recipe. This is a single batch size, but Mom NEVER did a single; she always tripled it.
I believe she originally got this recipe from a Nova Scotia cookbook, but I'm not sure where the book is now. When travelling in Nova Scotia I've eaten what they call "oatcakes," but those were more cookie-like, not quite like hers. And the ones she made are not the same as the delectable ones I wrote about here, which Mom herself loved; she got very bored with her own scones, actually, but we never did! Scones seem to have played a significant role in my upbringing, when I really think about it ... Anyway, here goes:
Scottish Oat Scones
2/3 c. melted butter or margarine
1/3 c. milk
1-3/4 c. rolled oats
1-1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
approx 1/2 c. chopped dates (or raisins or dried cranberries - Mom always used dates. Use more if you like more.)
In medium bowl, mix egg and milk. Add melted butter.
In large bowl, stir together rolled oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut up dates and add them. Add liquid mixture, stir together. Dough will be sticky. Pat it out into a square on a floured board/countertop to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut in squares or triangles. (This size of recipe will make about 12.) Place on greased cookie sheet or on a baking stone.
Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned on top and bottom.