When I was younger, we had  a tradition at my house where on my birthday we’d all pile into the car and head up into the Northumberland Hills to a fancy restaurant/hotel called the Northumberland Heights. There, with the panoramic view of Lake Ontario and the decently sized hill that you had to climb to get there, I’d have what in my opinion was the best Weiner Schnitzel on earth. A slab of breaded pork perfectly seasoned that took up half the plate, covered liberally with lemon juice (they never had ketchup or what not, which in hindsight is a good thing), with tons of roasted potatoes seasoned to perfection, and usually red cabbage, although I quickly discovered it didn’t agree with me at all. It wasn’t cheap, but for me it was great since I got it for free, and it was the lone Germanic dish I’d have all year, so I’d relish it like I was given gold.

Fast forwarding to the present day, the Germanic flavour of that restaurant is long gone, and I’m a few thousand miles away from it regardless, but the quest to find such Austrian based deliciousness remains undimmed. One thing I’ve found thought, is that restaurants these days are either feeling the pinch of higher food prices, or are becoming pretty cheap. While calling around today to find out what specials are offered for folks that wished to celebrate another year of giving the finger to the grim reaper, I found what is offered is….unremarkable. For most places I’ve found it consists largely of a brownie that a five year old would think “wow that’s small”, and if your’e especially “lucky”, the staff singing “Happy Birthday” both loud and off key. I suppose that’s great if the person celebrating their yearly birth is still in single digits, but for those of us that can drive vehicles without making the nightly news, it’s a bit hollow. In fact, out of the ten or so places that I called around too today, most just offered  a brownie and that’s it, with only one offering something of substance (like say, getting your meal free), but (there’s always a butt isn’t there), I had to bring three others with me. Ya for being alone I guess. And two of the places, being Sunday, are closed. Including the only place that I know of that does what I’d want today. Ya for blue laws still existing in the 21st century.

So as I get ready to head out to what will probably be the beach to enjoy what feels like an early spring, I find myself once again missing something that I know will never return. A melancholy thought on a day that’s supposed to be celebratory, in a long list of annoyances that I have no power to address. I’m sure I’ll find a decent view, and adequate sustenance on my travels today, but it won’t be the Northumberland HIlls, with the sweet smell of spring in the air and the Lake on the horizon.

It just isn’t be the same.