it’s amazing how a place can go from one extreme to another in a matter of a couple of months. timmins in the winter is an icy, dark, barren place that i travel to once, only for christmas – for four days of marathon eating. but in the summer, it’s a different story. it’s lush and beautiful, with a range of colours you can’t even imagine. the air is so clean you almost get a head rush, and is perfumed with the flowers and trees and berries and damp, fertile earth and smells so incredible i take deep lung-fulls inhaling as much as i can with every breath. the one thing (my favourite thing) that never varies from the seasons is the sky: even in the city, it looks like someone took a handful of silver glitter and blew it over the darkness. so many beautiful stars you really begin to feel the weight of how tiny and insignificant you really are.
i visit home around the second week of august every year with the same routine that i enjoy more with each year that passes. camp with my parents and then family dinner at nona’s. the older i get the more i appreciate being out in nature, removed from my regular life of emails and instagram and over-thinking, and just taking a step back to recognize the simple pleasure of sitting around a fire with good beer and good company. this year, i did something i’ve been wanting to do for a while, as my interest in cooking and food sourcing grew: catch, clean and cook my own fish.
i remember when i was young, i would get really upset about my dad going hunting. uneducated, obviously, about where my own food was coming from, i thought it was terrible that him and his buddies would go out and kill poor, helpless bambi. i remember trying moose pepperettes and liking them and feeling guilty! but years later, i realize my dad and his buddies who i thought were so cruel, have actually had it right all along. they may be hunting for sport, but in the end they’re sourcing and eating game that’s truly organic and free-range, killed humanely, and nothing goes to waste. what respect i have for them! now, i don’t know if i’ll ever have it in me to kill and eat my own animal (though i want to be able to. i’d imagine that you have a new respect for what you’re eating), i was excited to start small with fishing. my dad and i sat out on the lake for a solid 7 hours, and i caught my own 4 pickerel (and a bunch of pike but threw them back), and learned how to fillet it, then battered and fried it into a delicious dinner. i feel like i’ve gained a valuable life skill, better late than never.
the only other thing i ever want to do is dinner at nona’s. i put in my requests for food the week i book my flight, and we always have a belated birthday dinner. my favourite place to be is my nona’s kitchen – that has to be where my love of food started, or at least my love of eating. i love helping her, feeling like a nona in training. watching her techniques and asking questions, and reaching into the oven to taste test all my favourite foods. i also love cleaning up after, while everyone enjoys their coffee, sitting around chatting in the warm light. i must have had hundreds of the same family dinners in that kitchen; the smells and sounds of her house will always remind me of home.
i’m already looking forward to my next trip home.