Monday, September 29, 2008

bottles of my heritage

I know, it's been so long since you've heard from me that you've been worried that my new compy and I had a fight and my old compy refused to work with me because I have abandoned it. But worry no more. I have not been fighting with either compy (because obviously they both adore me).

No, no, I have been busily preserving the fruit I bought last weekend at the farmer's market so we in the gardens will have the tastes of summer after the snow flies. Remember that fable about the ant and the grasshopper where the grasshopper flits around partying away the days and laughs at the ant who is busily storing food for the days
when the snow will cover the ground? Well, on occasion, I am the ant. It is a deeply ingrained part of me.

While it used to be more economical to go to an orchard, pick the fruit, prepare it and store it, I'm not sure that is still the case. But even if it does cost more and take up time that I could use in all kinds of other ways, there is something very satisfying about buying fruit, watching it as it ripens, understanding the time-is-now mentality of a box of peaches or pears that demands that I carve out several hours to preserve these gifts from the orchards. The fruit doesn't care if it's an inconvenient time for me; if the fruit says it's ready, it is ready. I think of it as akin to pregnancy and delivery. When it is time, it is time. I also think the effort to find the fruit, prepare it and produce it is similar to breastfeeding a baby. Somehow, my body knew when it needed to produce the lifegiving milk for my child and it was exactly the thing my child needed at that moment. And that is the beauty of home-bottled fruit. There is something very comforting about providing this product from nature for my family, year after year.

So in the same way that I have for nearly all of the last 30 years, when the end of summer comes and fall is in the air, I know it is time to prepare for winter. I think it's in the dna from my strong pioneer women ancestors.
In addition to myriad other goings-on last week here in the gardens, I bottled peaches, pears, and raspberry jam. Jessie and I produced seven quart bottles of peaches on one of the nights; I did another 21 bottles of peaches the next night as well as 13 pints of low-sugar raspberry jam. Then the pears were ready for the bottles and when all of the pears were tucked safely in their bottles, the count was 20 quarts.

These are Jessie's first effort at bottling fruit

And these are the rest of the fruits of my efforts

Go ahead, just try to convince me these are not in the top five most beautiful things you've seen on the web today.


Jessie said...

They really are beautiful. Thank you for being patient enough to teach me. And for not displaying the upside-down peach half that would've ruined my picture. Someday I hope to have the patience, the means and the time to continue this tradition myself. Until then, I hope it's ok for me to tag along with you.

Skybird said...

For some reason, this struck a deep chord within me... a need to tell you thanks for remembering the simple ways, after all, may be the best ways.

In my world, too many are living extremely stress filled lives, and timing is not understood in the least. So many are pulled in so many directions.

My grandma bottled, and I remember simple winter nights in Mt. Pleasant when we would open up a jar of peaches and sit and talk... and feel family.

I remembered that again this morning... thank you!

Amelia said...

Whoa. That makes me hungry. And I just ate breakfast.