Writer’s Block: Dark Choco­late & White Mag­no­lia

Sweet tastes and heav­enly scents are bit­ter­sweet re­minders of child­hood and a spe­cial neigh­bour

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Va­lerie Mackin­non, Sum­mer­side, P. E. I.

A lit­tle old lady cre­ates life­long mem­o­ries for a young girl, thanks to two very sim­ple things.

The story I am about to tell takes place in Northam, P.E.I., in a beau­ti­ful, tran­quil set­ting. It is about a lit­tle old lady who has had a last­ing ef­fect on my life largely due to two sim­ple things, dark choco­late and a white mag­no­lia tree. She also kindly took the time to sit and chat with a five-year-old girl (me) and my eight-year-old sis­ter.

On a beau­ti­ful Prince Ed­ward Is­land day, in a rus­tic coun­try set­ting, a sum­mer breeze gen­tly blows over an old farm­house early in the evening. A del­i­cate per­fumed scent of white mag­no­lia blos­soms wafts through the air, as a lit­tle old lady saun­ters across the yard from do­ing her daily farm chores of milk­ing the cows. Libby is clad in a long, black dress with a flour-bag apron over it, rub­ber boots on her feet and a milk pail swing­ing from her arm. She pauses, gath­ers her skirts and as­cends the steps of the old farm­house and makes her way to the kitchen.

Just then, my sis­ter and I be­gin our long walk down the flower-lined, dirt-road lane to visit with this ex­quis­ite lady. As we trudge along, we stop to pick and eat berries here and there. All kinds of wild­flow­ers grow along the fence and we stoop to smell the dif­fer­ent fra­grances, and ad­mire the beau­ti­ful colours of pinks, reds and blues. We pick the pret­ti­est ones for a bou­quet for a very spe­cial lady called Libby. We con­tinue walk­ing to­wards the old farm­house with a lovely ve­randa that is nes­tled in a patch of ap­ple and mag­no­lia trees.

By now, Libby has had a chance to have her sup­per and re­lax a lit­tle bit. She has also changed into an­other black dress with a white cro­cheted col­lar and has her hair neatly coiled un­der a hair­net. We ap­proach her doorstep filled with great an­tic­i­pa­tion. We knock on her door and beau­ti­ful Libby beck­ons us to come in and sit awhile. As we make our way through the porch and into the kitchen, won­der­ful aro­mas of home­made bread, churned

but­ter, wild straw­ber­ries and freshly brewed tea fill the air. She thanks us for the flow­ers, takes them and puts them in a glass tum­bler and places them on the kitchen ta­ble.

We perch on the couch, all the while chat­ting away with her as we lis­ten to her tell of her daugh­ters who live so far away. She must have been very lone­some at times.

Now comes the magic mo­ment when she arises from her rock­ing chair and dis­ap­pears into the pantry. We can hear her rus­tle in her cup­boards and soon she reap­pears with a large box of de­li­cious dark choco­lates that have been sent to her from her fam­ily in Cal­i­for­nia. She pulls back the shiny wrap­per cov­er­ing the candy and al­lows us to choose our favourite one. Of course, we can tell what fill­ing is in the cen­tre of each choco­late as we know them all by heart by now, so after care­fully mak­ing our se­lec­tion, we all move out to the ve­randa to en­joy the quiet soli­tude of the night­fall. There, we sit and lis­ten as Libby rem­i­nisces about by­gone days and ev­ery­day hap­pen­ings. As we sit and chat with her, white mag­no­lia blos­soms fall to the ground and we gather them to make a bou­quet to take home to our bed­room.

Soon it is time to bid her good­bye and start our walk home. Libby needs her rest as she is 72 years of age and very ac­tive on her farm. So off we go, savour­ing the taste of the dark choco­late in our mouths and breath­ing in the fra­grance of our white mag­no­lia bou­quet. It has been a great day!

Sum­mer and fall pass by and De­cem­ber sets in. We awake one morn­ing to find our dog Tippy cry- ing and look­ing to­wards Libby’s house. Some­thing ap­pears to be ter­ri­bly wrong. Our Libby has not made her morn­ing trip to the barn, and very soon we find out why. Her son comes by to in­form us that Libby passed away at her break­fast ta­ble. Libby is gone. We have suf­fered a great loss in our young lives.

More than 60 years have passed since then, and to this day, when I smell the fra­grance of white mag­no­lia or taste dark choco­late, I still see a tiny, el­e­gant old lady, clad in a black skirt and flour-bag apron with a milk pail swing­ing from her arm, strolling along a path from the barn to her house, and I am trans­ported back to my child­hood.

How I trea­sure this mem­ory and the lovely legacy Libby left to that lit­tle five-year-old girl. ■

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.