Empty Bowls and an empty nest

According to family tradition, this is the second weekend of cottage season for us. According to our 14-year-old daughter, traditions “evolve” and we shouldn’t expect to drag her to the lake every Saturday when she could be at the mall with “normal” people.

Just about everyone we know who has a summer place warned us this would happen. I guess I was naive enough to believe that our daughter would be the exception that proved the rule or, cynical enough to believe that I could overcome her reticence with bribes.

I’m learning that it takes a lot to bribe a 14-year-old girl. When did kids’ clothes get so expensive?

We did mange to get to the lake last Saturday (our daughter had a sleepover birthday party) for the most important part of our cottage-opening tradition, the Festival of the Maples. On the last Saturday of April the main street of the beautiful little town of Perth, Ontario fills to capacity with thousands of people. Residents say hello to the folks they haven’t seen since fall and the first summer migrants, like us, stop in on the way to the cottage to have a bite and stock up on a fresh batch of syrup for the (we hope) long summer ahead. The weather gods always seem to bless this festival and by mid-afternoon the season’s first sunburns are starting to show. But it’s worth it, if only for the fudge.

All really good traditions have component parts and, for us, the one thing we absolutely must do at the maple festival is have lunch at the Empty Bowls tent. For a $20 donation you get a bowl of soup and a hand-made bowl (made by a local potter) to take with you.

The soup is donated by local restaurants and all the money raised goes toward helping hungry people and youth in the community. Perth potter Jackie Seaton is joined every year by hundreds of artists all over North America, each working independently within his or her own community to alleviate hunger.  You can read more about Perth’s Empty Bowls project here. There’s even a button to donate.

I can’t imagine a better tradition to start the summer with.

Now, if I could only figure out what to put in those bowls that would tempt a 14-year-old girl to give up the mall for a day or two.


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