How this notebook came to be
BY JOSÉE FISET
For children weary of concrete grey and school-bus yellow, the end of the school year is linked with happy smells, sights and tastes – the stuff childhood memories are made of: the fragrance of peonies (the darkest ones had the strongest smell), the taste of tiny wild strawberries (sun-warm, fragile and about a million times more delicious than their garden-grown cousins) and the sharp crack of rhubarb stalks, which were the same colour as the bottoms of our pockets from carrying around those sweet wild strawberries we picked... so good! But for me, September came in with honey hues, the golden brown of chestnuts and the deep cream of oats. And back-to-school time had an almost sacred ritual: eating hot oatmeal and salt-buttered toast. Heaven was – and remains! – the art of carefully not stirring the spoonful of brown sugar, the sprinkle of cinnamon and the puddle of milk floating on the top of the porridge, which tasted just a little salty. September also meant a cookie sheet glimpsed through the oven door, promising caramelized toasted oats, slivered almonds and roasted hazelnuts. Every season has its inspirations. Oats – so humble and so healthy – have made this issue sprout, flourish and grow.