Sometimes I can scarce believe it’s been only four months since I retired; four months since my thoughts were constantly consumed with project plans, deadlines, and other people’s priorities. I spent twenty-five years in the corporate world and, for the most part, received great fulfillment from working hard and seeing a project come together successfully but that world seems far away now.
These days the only deadlines I’m concerned about are what’s coming ripe in my garden and what’s available at the farmer’s market. The project plans I think about when I wake up in the morning have to do with canning, freezing, and dehydrating nature’s bounty.
I’ve spent this morning in the kitchen tending to a big batch of strawberries that were just picked at a local farm last evening. Jewel-toned jars of strawberry jam sit cooling on my kitchen counter right now and I’ve just put two large trays of strawberries in the freezer; I’ll transfer the frozen berries to other containers later today.
Now, I’m getting ready to head out to my garden to harvest basil to put in the dehydrator to use in sauces and recipes later in the year. I’ll also pick some lettuce for a big supper salad and perhaps some Swiss Chard and peas as well.
This new work is different–it’s slow work, meditative work, and it leaves me physically tired and sore at the end of the day sometimes. I’m finding great fulfillment in tending my garden, cooking and serving the freshest ingredients, and preserving fruit and veggies for the future. The satisfication I receive from a days work tending the garden or canning jam is huge and it’s very different from the fulfillment I got from the corporate world for so many years.
It’s personal. It’s lasting It’s like a return to my self.
I can’t help but reflect back to when I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children. In some ways it seems like I’ve come full circle, though that path to get here has been long, rough, and filled with detours. I felt a measure of fulfilment at the labour of my hands back then, though circumstances were such that I longed, and needed, something more.
I can’t help but remember my mom labouring in a sweltering kitchen to can fruit and vegetables. I wonder what occupied her mind as she stood at the stove stirring a pot of bubbling jam. Did she find herself longing for something else too?
I can’t help but consider my grandma–a stern and distant woman who raised three children on her own during the Dirty Thirties on the Saskatchewan prairie after losing her husband a few months after the birth of her third child. I wonder if all of the homemaking chores were just that to her–work–or if she found a measure of fulfilment in tending her garden and preserving its bounty.
I feel blessed on this quiet, albiet busy, morning that the work I am doing today allows time for me to reflect and remember.