Saturday, October 13, 2012

Community Canning

Some friends of our live about two blocks away. You’ve seen them here recently with the bounce house and pool party. We’ve never been incredibly close, but that has been changing lately which makes me happy. Just recently, D&F’s mom decided to get into canning a bit. Not knowing what she is doing, she called me to help out. So, we packed up the wagon with two water bath canners, some pots, jars, lids, tongs, and rubber gloves and set off.

The first night, we did oodles of salsa. The second night, we made jalapeno pepper jelly. Since then, she has gone crazy and did pickled beets and bought a half bushel of peaches. She has caught the bug. I see this becoming a regular event, and I couldn’t be happier.

She and I cut, chop, stir, and boil while the four boys run around together and wear each other out. The boys are becoming better and better friends every time we visit.

So much fun!

It was during the salsa night that the neighbor and I got talking about the process of canning.

Bub hates it. It’s too tedious for her: the peeling, the chopping, the seeding, the stirring. She loves to cook, but this is a whole new level of torture for her. This is fine with me.

For me, and I’ve said it here before, it is a practice in meditation and remembrance. It is a time for preparing and ensuring that our family has plenty of healthy food in the pantry.

It is also a time of honoring the commitment that my mom made to us to keep us fed (which was hard sometimes). I managed to not cry as I described to my neighbor the last time that my mom and I canned something together, just one month before her death. It was cherries from our tree, and mom taught me an awesome trick for quickly pitting them as we sat on the back porch for hours that night. The last gift that she ever gave to me was my black water bath canning kettle and THE BIBLE (The Ball Blue Book of Canning).

Finally, I was just like one of the aunts or neighbors that used to come to our house when I was little to put up the fall harvest. Mom and I talked and laughed and gossiped. I think that we both realized that it would never happen again, but it was only in the very furthest reaches of the back of my brain. I know now that she knew. I was still holding out hope that her cancer hadn’t spread and that her liver would last for five years so that she could be put on the transplant list. So unrealistic and naïve I was.

I miss her every time I seal a jar, every time I open something from my pantry shelves, every time I see fruit on a tree just waiting to be picked.

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