Not deferential enough: Preservation Hall

Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Preservation Hall

by Gina Hamilton

By now, I've made ten jars of blueberry jam and another eight jars of blackberry jam. I didn't make any strawberry or raspberry this year, but I did freeze some berries. Now the preservation hall moves out of my purview into Chris', as he makes ketchup and pepper sauce and pickles and salsa and spaghetti sauce.

Our gardens are producing well, and soon we will have shelves of the fruits of our labor ... literally ... put up for winter.

Now, I can't think of any set of circumstances that would require the use of 18 jars of jam in any given winter. Indeed, if we use more than two before next year's harvest I'd be surprised. Likewise we will have far more pepper sauce and spaghetti sauce and salsa than we need. So the enterprise is also a holiday gift project, in which our produce is sent to far-away loved ones in dear little hampers, along with coffee, tea, cookies, and homemade chocolates. 

In other words, my Christmas shopping is almost done.

Summer is fleeting, and if I had any kids around, they'd be getting ready for school. I do not regret not having "back to school" to prepare for, for a change, but it does seem odd. I've been in the business of "back to school" for nearly 22 years, looking for a nice sweater or a pretty dress for school pictures, matching lists from the teacher with bags of crayons, colored pencils, markers, and composition books; picking out just the right kind of sneakers and buying lunch and snack items that are easily portable.

As soon as this season passes, however, too soon the triple-whammy is upon us: Halloween (which, again, not having small kids makes it less of a stressor), Thanksgiving (which I personally love, but is a lot of work), and Christmas, the biggest whammy of them all. This year, all except the Fortnum and Mason hamper crowd (well, really, the Hamilton and Radtke hamper crowd) can expect L.L.Bean goods in their respective socks and under the tree. Unless a child is here by then, in which case all bets are off.

The great yawning winter follows, but that's too far away to contemplate, except in the realm of the Preservation Hall.

As the Roma tomatoes turn red, one by one, they'll find themselves in spaghetti sauce or salsa or ketchup or tomato jelly, which I have no idea how to use, but sounds shiveringly delightful. For now, however, my work is done.

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