Like my gardening mojo, my canning mojo is in short supply this year too. Nevertheless, there are things to do, and this weekend it’s tomato soup time. Other than jam, this will be the first canning I’ve done this summer. Crazy, when I think about previous years, but there it is. This year is different.
The world is different. This season is different, and if we expect life to return to what it was before 2020, the harder it is on us and the more likely it is that we’ll miss lessons and opportunities. I try to remind myself of that when it all seems especially heavy.
Yesterday morning, I was out watering the petunias and potato vine in my front flower pots, observing the ash covering them that is especially apparent on the dark flowers and leaves I chose this year, and thinking about how the simple task of pouring water from a vessel to nourish pretty flowers enriches the few minutes it takes to do so every day.
I did the same on the back deck for pots of pink geraniums, purple morning glory, brilliant mandevilla, and a multi-colored assortment in a hanging pot, and made a mental note to write an actual note to myself to plant a larger assortment of brightly coloured flowers on the deck next year. They’re visible from inside the house and, if we’re driven indoors like we are this year, provide an element of cheer. It’s a simple adjustment that could make a big difference.
As always, I had such hope of spending copious amounts of time on the deck with books and my laptop, doing what I love: reading and writing. The heat dome, then the smoke, forced those plans to change. There’s still time. I haven’t lost hope. Meanwhile, the dogs and I curl up in the den/snug when opportunity presents to lose myself in a good book or the sweetness of wrangling words for a blog post or essay.
We adjust to change, not without lament, but with intention to find new ways to be in a changing world. This is just a small example, but I believe the principle scales up.
So, I’m canning tomato soup this weekend, and starting with 25 pounds of tomatoes rather than the customary 50 (I’ll do more in the days and weeks to come, but I’m not killing myself to do as much in a day as I used to do). And I’m toying with the idea of not canning dozens of jars of tomatoes, but buying cases of tinned tomatoes for the winter (I know. Radical.) and, instead, taking the easier path of slow roasting Roma’s with garlic and herbs and freezing the delicious result. (They are delicious done this way. I did it for the first time last year and got a bit fanatical about them.)
I’m not canning dill pickles (but I am making beet pickles, just as soon as I get around to harvesting the beets), or coleslaw, or vegetable soup, or meatballs, or relish, or any of the other myriad of things I’ve put in jars in the past, but our freezer is filling with fruit, green beans, and pesto—and soon, roasted tomatoes.
Seasons change, the world changes, and (to borrow a mantra from my working days) we try, test, and adjust our intentions. Some wise person once said that the only constant is change and, surely, we must know that to be true by now.