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May 24 was the gateway to summer activities and traditions It was especially warm that April. The snow had long since gone, and the days were warm enough that the roads were no longer muddy ruts, and we could even see Spring buds coming out on the trees. Our winter clothes, including our hateful long underwear, had been packed away, and we could smell the mothballs Mother had generously scattered into the trunk in the upstairs hall where our wool sweaters and other heavy clothing would sit out the hot summer months. The creek at the bottom of the West Hill had receded, and the Bonnechere had settled into a gently flowing river cutting through the lower reaches of our farm. Spring was warm enough to be called Summer, and that was all it took for my three brothers to decide it was now time to go swimming in the Bonnechere, even though the month of May had yet to begin. Of course, Mother put the kibosh on that idea! There would be no

a cold glass of water, using his battered straw hat as a fan. He took his red polka-dot handkerchief out of his back overall pocket, and wiped MARY COOK his face, sending streaks of dust swimming until the 24th of May, and from the hayloft down his face. thatʼs all there was to it! “Sure is hot in the barn,” he said. My brother Emerson said if they Emerson was joined by my brothwaited that long, the summer would ers Everett and Earl in a plea for a dip be half over at the rate we were go- in the Bonnechere. ing. Well, they could have saved their Emerson went outside to the big breath. There would be no swimming thermometer that was nailed to the until the 24th of May, and thatʼs all house with ʻSupertestʼ in bright yel- there was to it. low letters on top. “Itʼs 75 degrees,” Emerson wanted to know what was Emerson wailed. so important about the 24th of May. “I donʼt care if it says 100! There He reminded Mother that was almost will be no swimming until the 24th a month away, and by that time, at the of May,” Mother said, slamming the rate we were going, with the heat and screen door shut with a bang. all, the Bonnechere could easily be Father came from the barn to get nothing more than a trickle, and the

Mary Cook’s Memories




Arnprior Location







summer would be half over, and that would be the end of swimming! My older and much wiser sister Audrey and I headed for the swing in the grape arbour. The leaves were yet to come out, but the vines were thick enough that the sun had yet to penetrate. I thought, since I seldom had Audrey all to myself, that this would be a good time to ask her what was so important about the 24th of May. “Well,” Audrey said leaning back in the old wood swing, “Mother says a lot of things should wait until the 24th of May, and a lot of things change on that day too.” I waited for Audrey to speak. She looked like she was falling asleep. I was sitting across from her, and I nudged her with the toe of my shoe. “Iʼm thinking. Iʼm thinking,” she said. And then she rhymed off a few things, which made little sense to me, but obviously were important to Mother. “Well, you will see that Mother never wears a summer hat to church until the 24th of May. She said in New York any woman caught wearing a summer hat before the 24th of May would be considered a woman of poor taste.” Audrey took a long breath. “And you certainly wouldnʼt wear white gloves before then for the same reason. And that same goes for summer shoes too.” I was mulling over this bit of news

in my mindʼs eye. For the life of me I couldnʼt understand why a date on a calendar was so important. And then Audrey reminded me of the many little flat wood boxes of sprouted seeds in the kitchen waiting to be put into the garden. “Never, ever, has Mother transplanted those boxes until after the 24th of May. Youʼre too young to remember, but one year she planted every last box, and two days later, the frost came, and killed every last one of the plants.” I had no idea what plants getting hit with frost, wearing a summer hat and white gloves and summer shoes, and swimming in the Bonnechere all had to do with the 24th of May. Audrey started to doze off in the swing. I mulled over all she had said, and I figured, next to Easter and Christmas, the 24th of May must surely be one of the most important days of the year. I couldnʼt wait for that date to roll around, and I decided right then and there, I would write in my diary all that had happened on that date so that years down the road, I would remember what an important day it was when I was very young. Interested in an electronic version of Mary’s books? Go to https://www. and type MaryRCook for e-book details, or if you would like a hard copy, please contact Mary at


Seniors at Home volunteers appreciated


245 DANIEL ST. S., ARNPRIOR 36 Arnprior Chronicle-Guide - Thursday, May 7, 2015


Some of the newest Arnprior-Braeside-McNab Seniors At Home voluntters at the program’s volunteer appreciation banquet April 11 at the Arnprior Legion. Seniors at Home executive director Dennis Harrington presented pins to those in attendance. In the back from left are Wayne Needham, Lisette MacLeod, Laura Koch, Sandra Hall and Archie Jordan; and in front are Tanya Rath, Geraldine Lynn, Rose Buse and Kathy McGregor. Missing from the photo but still valued new volunteers are Linda Chalmers, Trina Chapman, Francoise Crepin, Cheryl Hughes, Madison Kovacs, Keith MacLean, Pierre Maltais, Janice Marcellus, Mike McDowell, Linda Mirault, Ashley MacMillan, Tim Philips, Chris Pleau, Collette Rigby, Susie Smithson and Gaston Moreau. National Volunteer Appreciation Week was April 12-18.


Arnprior Chronicle-Guide May 7, 2015