It’s fruit season. I’m tucking raspberries and strawberries away in the freezer, making jam, and enjoying handfuls of the sweet berries throughout the day. Also on ice cream. Of course.
I’ve been on a canning hiatus, and the familiar sound of pinging lids and the sight of jars liked up like red-jewelled soldiers on a towel on the kitchen counter is satisfying.
This year’s harvest has begun and we’re still eating down the stores from the canning shelves and the freezer. I worked hard last summer—as evidenced by the abundance we’re still enjoying—and I intend to do less this year, or at least be more selective with what I preserve.
And even as I tap out these words, I consider the blessing it is to say I’ll do less because we have enough. I know what it’s like to not have enough, the gift of full freezer and canning shelves is no small thing. Summer reminds me of this, as does winter when we can hunker down at home with a pantry filled with preserves.
We lose some of this sense of gratitude when our food comes only from a grocery store chain. We forget that it takes good, honest labour by someone somewhere to feed us. Gardening and preserving takes us back to the basics.
We learn so much from the garden—she is generous with her lessons and her nourishment. The effort of preserving the harvest has wisdom of its own. I work alone, in silent meditation, in my kitchen crowded with ghosts. My mind wanders, my back aches, and I bring myself back to chopping fruit and vegetables, filling jars, and offering prayers.
This is my summer gratitude practice.