September kicks off a month of seasons-- football season, hunting season, and the obvious fall weather season. For me, September brings the opening of birthday season. Three of our children were born in the last half of September. On top of that, six aunts, uncles, and cousins have birthdays that require phone calls or cards.
But one birthday we’d been looking forward to will be bittersweet. Our friend Dottie was to turn 99 this week, but instead of eating a little cake with me and the kids, she’ll be partying at the greatest feast ever. You see, Dottie died last week, and while she’s in a better place, I’m still sad.
Dottie made me feel good about myself. Every time I visited, she told me repeatedly how much she loved me, how wonderful I was, how good my husband was, and how beautiful my children were. It didn’t matter that her eyes couldn’t see so well or that she never saw me at my worst; Dottle repeated those words of love so many times, I couldn’t help but believe them a little bit.
Dottie stroked my ego, but that’s not why I’ll miss her so much. When I visited with Dottie, she out-talked me. “You’ll have to forgive me,” she’d say, “but I am a talker, and I just love people. I can’t help it; that’s the way I am.” I didn’t need to forgive her because I adored her for it; I understood her because that’s exactly the way I am, too. I think we must have been kindred spirits.
Every time we left Dottie’s house, she’d stand on her front porch or, when she became too unsteady on her feet, just inside her front door and wave and throw kisses until we were out of sight. That’s special.
I might not be able to throw her a birthday party this year, but I can celebrate her life. I can celebrate by throwing kisses and hugs and loving words of every kind all over the place. Who knows? Maybe it’ll make somebody around me feel half as warm and fuzzy as Dottie made me feel.
In our house, September is also applesauce season. My husband makes quarts and quarts of it. Dottie ate applesauce nearly every day, so we usually took some to her when we visited. I’ll miss that.
While applesauce is good on its own, it’s also delicious in baked goods. These applesauce muffins are just the thing to pair with your favorite coffee or hot tea on a chilly September morning.
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/2 cups oats, uncooked
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cups oats, uncooked
1 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 400℉. Prepare muffins pans (enough for 12 muffins) by lining with paper cups or by greasing pan. In a small bowl combine topping ingredients, mix well, and set aside.
For muffins, combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix well. In another bowl, combine applesauce, milk, sugar, oil, and egg; blend well. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not over-mix.) Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle with reserved topping, patting gently. Bake 20-22 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool muffins in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan and serve warm.
*This column ran in the Hancock News September 20, 2017.