Friday, June 11, 2010
I remember November
I remember November when I was eight: the sky getting dark earlier every evening, waking up before sunrise and eating breakfast while it was still night. In November, my mother would start making Christmas cake. She would take my sister and me to Nutcracker Sweet, the bulk dry goods store where she would buy candied peels, green and red cherries, Thompson and Sultana raisins and sliced almonds. She used her huge aluminum canning pot, big enough to bathe a toddler in, to hold all of the fruitcake ingredients. I remember her working the mixture with the long handled wooden spoon she would use to mix bread dough. She would turn over the fruits and nuts like she was mixing cement, resting the pot on a dining room chair so she could reach inside. Once they had been baked, I remember wrapping the cakes in aluminum foil, though not before dousing them with rum or brandy. She would put the stacks of cakes in the cold cellar, the small room in the basement that was originally used to store coal, with its hanging lightbulb and cinderblock walls. Mom kept everything she made in the cold cellar: every flavour of jam and jelly you could think of, plus the cakes. I remember my dad coveting the fruitcake once Christmas rolled around: cutting pieces for himself to go with his coffee and balancing the sticky slices on the rim of his mug.