For the first years of my life my family lived on the first floor of one of those generic high-rise buildings that looked like all the rest. During my first grades of school my world was a three block radius on the fat side of the city, just outside the borders of status and circumstance. My parents worked hard but they were young and hadn’t made their mark. Yet. These were my beginnings.
The day my parents put down money on their first house I was a bit anxious. Excited but fearful of the world that existed outside of long hallways and sky high balconies. I knew a handful of kids, a few parents and one teacher at one school. Things were about to change. Fast.
A little while later a moving truck backed up to the building and started loading all of our cherished possessions. It wasn’t all that much really, enough boxes to fill a large storage unit at best. I said bye to the few friends I had met and known and my best friend in the world. And we were off. Never turning back.
The day we pulled into our new driveway, something entirely foreign to me at the time, I could see the winds of change in the rear view mirror. I quickly ran through my new house and into my own bedroom. I stood in our small grassy backyard and looked at the homes that formed a U around us. We were now on our way.
A few of the neighbourhood kids and one from two houses down showed up for a quick introduction and asked if I wanted to play. I didn’t know who they were but they were my best bet at this point. And they helped dry the tears that had stained my face after saying goodbye to the only real friends I had known.
I spent the next few hours, and the better part of my childhood, on the side street that ran down from the corner by our house. The same bunch of kids, give or take a few. Mostly young boys and a girl or two. We always hung out as a group, occasionally breaking off into smaller groups for events or sleepovers. But we always reunited every weekend.
When we were especially young, the mix of boys and girls didn’t matter. We were just kids, mixed between 7 and 10. And, as the years came and went, that mix stayed consistent and unaltered. The same bunch of friends that helped each other mature through the years. But things were destined to change. And, one day, they did. It came from nowhere.
After one last summer spent together we started school a bit older and wiser than the year before. We were all thrown into different homerooms and classes and that posed new challenges. It wasn’t more than a few weeks into the new school year that some of the old gang started hanging out with kids from their class. And it wasn’t much longer until some of us stopped existing altogether.
That large original group of friends that couldn’t be separated was now just a collection of much smaller groups and different ones. With different people. Familiar faces now grew up and moved on. The kids that met me in the driveway would never be the same again. And would soon be forgotten.
Soon my weekends were spent with my friend Peter from down the street. Just us. We became best friends as the years went on and learned many life lessons together. If I wasn’t at my house I was always found at his. And his parents treated me like another son. They were an extended family.
We learned a thousand things growing up together, from how to properly answer a phone to the way to behave in front of company. Manners and life lessons. And after we listened and passed the assigned tests to prove we were indeed listening, his father would take us out for dessert. First it would be ice cream but as we aged it would be something homemade. Usually a warm slice of fruit bread. Like this one. The first I had ever had.
My favourite moments from my youth almost always included my best friend Peter. After the other kids turned their backs on us, he stood tall. We grew up playing hockey together, went on our first double date together and spent almost every weekend at each other’s house. Even as we worked our way through high school I was almost always there. Cooking dinner for his mom and staying up late on weekends.
We stayed in contact up and until after the first year of college but then we slowly lost touch. I don’t know where he is now, but I know he’s doing well. It was in the stars for him. I’ll never forget seeing his face at the end of my driveway as a young boy, and I’ll never forget all those memories that would be empty if not for him.
From my kitchen to yours,
Pear and Walnut Loaf
- 2 cups pears, cored, peeled and grated
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg, grated
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 3/4 cups olive oil
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (plus 1/4 cup for topping)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease one 9″x5″ loaf and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg.
- In a second mixing bowl combine eggs, oil, honey and grated pear. Add in the flour mixture a bit at a time and fold until all ingredients are wet. Add the chopped walnuts and stir to spread the walnuts throughout the mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into the loaf and spread the remaining walnuts evenly on top. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes or until the wooden skewer placed in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes and then remove from pan and serve.