Snow piles bring back memories

The sun is shining, making it look like a perfect day, but the wind is continuing to blow from the northwest, making it feel like a frigid mid-January day when, in fact, we are nearing the end of February.
The talk in the coffee shops now is focusing on when the snow will end, as well as the height of the snowbanks lining the streets of Fort Frances.
It is the perfect time for comfort food and my thoughts always drift to the stews and beef barley soup my mother would make. She used my grandmother’s recipe for the soup, which had to rest for a full day before it could be eaten.
My mother always began her stews early in the morning, allowing the meat to brown and to make a thick sauce surrounding the onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, and parsnips. The vegetables were chunked and one or two bay leaves were added to the stock filling the pot. The pot then sat on the stove all day slowly simmering, the flavours melding together.
Late in the day, she would make dumplings, adding those to the stew to come from the pot steaming hot when we sat down for supper.
My brother and I both were paper carriers in our youth. Regardless of the temperature, we trudged from Robert Moore School all the way to the Times’ office on Church Street, where Canada Customs is now located. From there, we dropped off papers up Central Avenue and then delivered to customer all the way down First Street to the arena, as well as between the avenues that ran between First and Second Street.
I don’t ever remember being cold but as a young boy, we don’t ever seem to get cold. Our toques and parka hoods kept us warm while our corduroy pants and long johns kept the cold at bay.
It would take the two of us just under an hour to deliver our 145 papers. You weren’t supposed to cut across lawns between houses, so we were up and down sidewalks. It was good exercise and the memories are good.
But it seemed all rewarding when we burst through the door shortly before 6 p.m. and the smells of the stew filled the house with the most wonderful aromas. The steaming bowls with a dumpling on top were served.
My mother always made a huge pot. Neither myself or my brother were ever satisfied with a single bowl and seconds and thirds were consumed. I think my mother hoped that she had made enough for leftovers the second night.
Occasionally there were leftovers but very seldom. The dumplings always disappeared first.
These thoughts came to me Monday morning as John Pierce and I shovelled out the sidewalk and delivery entrance at the Times. The snow piles that seem so high brought back those nostalgic, good memories.

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