Today I accomplished something I’ve dreamt of doing for a very long time – canning! In my own home, all by my self (more specifically, without Mom’s help).
Perhaps canning doesn’t typically fall within the realm of ‘arts’ that I try to stear this blog around, but I really think that there is something incredibly creative, artful, and beautiful about the whole process of preserving fresh produce. Aren’t vegetables just gorgeous!
Having grown up with fabulously delicious and abundant gardens in our respective back yards, Nathan and I both discovered, upon starting our own home together, that we dreadfully missed the whole gardening scene.
We do admit that our moms are incredibly hard workers and our bits of help in the garden only reflect a small fraction of the time and sweat that go into cultivating such abundance. For the first few years of our marriage we tried to have some isolated plants of peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and the like…but usually with rather disappointing results. With moving during the summers we usually weren’t in any one place long enough to plan, plant, tend, and harvest from a single plot.
Our first year’s pots of tomatoes were donated to the owners who assumed our lease when we moved – not sure what happened to them. The second attempt was on a north-facing Denver deck – the one place in Denver that was not sunny all the time, er, ever.
The third and fourth years were when we were house-sitting just during the summer months, so we didn’t get the garden started quite early enough – and it was typical Colorado sandy soil, so our plants were a little pathetic.
Last year was the first time we had a good chance to do a “real” garden, thanks to my mother’s kindness in sharing “a bit of earth” (Secret Garden is AubreyElla’s favorite movie lately) from one of her gardens. Nathan’s square foot gardening, and the plethora of free end-of-season pepper plants from the co-op, rendered much yumminess.
This year we again are living in a space that is not conducive to having a garden, and were thinking we would merely have another go at whatever might survive on our small deck – which has turned out to be a pretty nice crop of basil and parsley (thank you Katie!).
Then we heard from a friend in the area. Her recent treatments for breast cancer have necessitated her forfeiting garden work -one of her most dear summer activities, and she kindly offered her beautiful garden for us to use. Thank you Rene’. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
[I feel that at this point I should clarify that, when speaking of the act of gardening, though I tend to use the plural pronouns “we/us/our” etc, it should be understood that Nathan is our resident gardener, not me. At all. I dream of having a green thumb some day, but let it be known that today is not that day. Thanks, hon’, for all your hard work! And thanks to Mom for sharing so many tomatoes with us for this batch of canning.]
So this summer we have been enjoying lots of radishes, heirloom pole beans (thanks Shahzore!), lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage. Some of you have heard of and tasted last week’s amazing sauerkraut success.
It’s hard to even know how to communicate the thrill of journeying through a food item’s entire life span from seed to sprout to plant to blossom to fruit to the smell of freshly chopped produce to the smell of sauces and sautees to jars of products that some people have only ever seen on shelves at the grocery store.
The whole experience stirs something in me that I think is akin to the journey of creating pieces of art.
Whether it is a watercolor painting from start to finish in an afternoon or a concert program that finally gets performed after months of planning and rehearsing. There is simply something magical about seeing a project through to completion.
Creating something that you are really, truly proud of is an incredible feeling.