It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I have to apologize for my absence. It’s not that I’m no longer interested in being here. No, not at all. In fact, I look forward to being here a lot more again now that my manuscript is done. I have to say, when the last word was typed, it was a little anticlimactic. With each word I wrote that brought me closer to the end, I had visions of throwing the monstrous pile of papers, notebooks and books on my desk into the air and dancing a jig on top of them when they landed. But considering it was 2 a.m. and everyone else in the house was asleep when I had no more to write, I didn’t think it would be appreciated. Actually, I didn’t have the energy. So I just stared at the screen, expecting some euphoric feeling to overtake me but nope. It wasn’t exhilaration that I felt either. I felt panic. There is a vulnerability to writing 43,000 words about something that you adore, as I adore Niagara food and farming. This isn’t my usual 600-word news story that’s here today and forgotten tomorrow. I feel as though my credibility as a writer and as a champion of all things edible and Niagara — and the people producing them — is on the line. What if people hate it? Worse yet, what if no one reads it? What if this is the only book I ever write? I worry about that because I really want to write more. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a child and I have so many ideas. I know people could love it, too, and that’s what I hope, of course. My soul feels laid bare with this project. I’m not sure that feeling will have subsided by the time my book comes out in the fall, though I look forward to holding it in my hands, to seeing the cover, the words on the pages, to breathing deeply the smell of the ink and paper, and the sweat and tears that went into every moment I devoted to this nearly year-long work. I will feel as though I have given birth again, my second labour in the same year. Niagara Food: A Flavourful History of the Peninsula’s Bounty is due out this fall. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw that it was already listed on Amazon for advanced sales back in May. The words weren’t even finished when I discovered it. And every time I’ve looked at it since (yes, I did go to Amazon while writing and call it up to see it, just to keep me going), it still didn’t feel real. If you are interested, though, please check it out. If you do decide to buy a copy, know that I am grateful. I hope more than anything that my love for Niagara will be apparent with every turn of the page. We have amazing people here doing some really inspiring things with food. What’s not to love, really? To coincide with the upcoming release, my Eating Niagara column will be running twice monthly in all the Niagara dailies this summer. I look forward to getting out and meeting more people doing important work in local food and farming. Perhaps I’ll have the fodder for a sequel soon enough. Mostly, though, I look forward to coming back to this space, my creative outlet, and sharing food stories again, like the reviews in the works on two recipe collections that are welcome additions on what’s becoming an overflowing pantry shelf. Or my last two —and long overdue — instalments of the Canadian Food Experience Project, and all the other inspiration that I know I’ll find in the weeks and months ahead. I’ve missed you guys and I promise I won’t go so long without saying hello again.