I’ve been busy this summer; I’ve done some new things.
To start with, I planted a garden. It’s a small garden, just a single raised bed, but it has provided us with a seemingly-endless supply of lettuce over the past number of months. We’ve also enjoyed fresh, organically grown radishes and carrots and my zucchini plant is going to be providing us with summer squash very soon. We’re taking great pleasure in eating freshly picked tomatoes from the garden. (There’s a story about my Brandywine tomato plant that I’ll save for another day; suffice to say that it’s been my “baby” this summer.)
I purchased a dehydrator a couple of months ago. I’ve enjoyed providing the kids with banana chips that are far superior in taste and nutritional value to the ones that can be bought at the store. I’ve experimented with making crackers in the dehydrator, and I’ve dried kale, apricots, cherries, and peaches.
I made freezer jam and adorned the jars with the same fabric I used to make my daughter a quilt a few years ago. I took pleasure in using my pinking shears to cut the fabric to just the right size and seeing how it decorated the jars when I was finished.
I froze peaches. In winter we will be enjoying delicious peach pie!
Over the weekend I made dill pickles. They’re sitting on my kitchen counter right now because I”m not quite ready to put them away. It’s satisfying to me to see the jars sitting there.
I planted a sunflower and a pumpkin with my granddaughter.
It’s been a personally fulfilling summer as I’ve ventured into these areas of growing and preserving food and as I’ve tended my garden and made pickles with my mom’s recipe I’ve been thinking about her and the life she had.
When she was growing up there was no question that families grew gardens and preserved the bounty of summer. It’s just the way things were done. When Mom and Dad married they moved to the city and, while Mom grew a flower garden and continued for a while to make pickles and jams, the time eventually came when she stopped preserving food. Fresh food was always available at the grocery store and Mom worked outside of the home for a time; who had time for canning?
When I grew up and took on caring for my own home and family I had a brief foray into preserving food. I always froze tomatoes from our garden and one year I even made a batch of pickles, but it wasn’t something women my age were too interested in. I went back to school and ultimately began working full-time at my chosen career. Canning? Pickling? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s all I could manage just to get supper on the table at the end of every day.
But things are changing. We are changing. We’ve been living busy lives and we’ve had a constant supply of trucked-in produce. We’ve been able to eat lettuce and tomatoes all year round. In time, we forgot what fresh produce was supposed to taste like and we became accustomed to tasteless tomatoes and expensive lettuce. We had no need to preserve fruit and vegetables and to pass on those recipes our grandmother used. Collectively we are starting to realize that we’ve been missing something.
It pleases me personally to turning back toward the things that were once common-place for my mother and grandmother. These things fulfill me in a way that I have not found at my corporate job.
I’m thrilled when I hear my daughter getting excited about her new rain barrel and the glass frames her husband is bringing home so they can build cold beds to extend the growing season.
I think we all have learned something over the past few years. We’re beginning to appreciate the things that are timeless, basic, and fulfilling; we’re recognizing that much of what we once counted as important is fleeting and temporary. These things give me hope for the future for my children and grandchildren. In some ways we have come full circle.