laying up food against the season

Early last week my youngest son, who is still at the age where he loves to do any chores that get him close to Mom and Dad, went to the back of our yard to pick all of the apples he could reach from our apple tree. We are the natural kind of gardeners (meaning, if it happens to grow without any real assistance from us we will surely pick it and eat it), and I must admit that every time we go to harvest from our two apple trees I just hope there will be enough healthy fruit to get my ten year-old excited. We were pretty ecstatic when #4 came in with a big bucket of about 50 apples, and yesterday he and I spent the bulk of the afternoon canning apple pie filling.

I have often wondered about the term laying up food against the season. There aren't any fruits or vegetables, at least here in Utah where I live, that grow year round. There is something very earthy about our natural, internal clocks that let us know when it is time to store something up, so that we can have it when we might need it. When it is not seasonally available. We snatch up the strawberries in late summer when we get a good price and we freeze them or make jam. We make mucho salsa once those tomatoes and peppers are ready. I, at least, always listen to the wise older women in my neighborhood who have this whole thing down to a science. They are like walking almanacs with all of their instincts and predictions about food... storing it, getting good buys on it.

Yesterday, as I pulled the last bottles out of their bath, I sat down to the computer in our kitchen and had the strongest yearning to track down two old friends I knew back in Virginia, before I came out to Utah and stayed west. One of these friends I haven't talked to or seen for eighteen years, and the other maybe ten years. No contact at all since our last meetings., not because of a falling out. Life just kept moving. I felt like I was having a physical prompt. Like the knot in my stomach was a sign that I needed to find these people. Within 15 minutes searching online I was able to track them both down and work that knot right out.

I am not too sappy about things, but when it comes to people I am a sentimentalist. I need people. I need family, and I need old friends who knew me when. I feel like keeping track of important people in my life, knowing where they are living, knowing about their children, is also laying up food against the season. I need to save them up and do whatever is necessary to preserve them. Careful preparation, all the right ingredients, screw the lid on tight. Just in case I need them later, which I will.

8 comments

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel | October 20, 2008 at 1:19 AM

What a beautiful and poignant analogy. Just as food fills a physical need, friends fill us emotionally and spiritually. What a lovely message of nurturing and preserving friendships. When the rain comes, there will be a warm and safe place for you surrounded by friends. I hope I'll be deserving to join that circle one of these days.

Connie | October 20, 2008 at 7:13 AM

What an accomplishment! Don't you love the sound of a sealing lid on a bottle of preserved food? I can imagine how surprised and excited your friends were when they heard from you. Your day was filled with good things that will continue to carry you through life.

Heidi Ashworth | October 20, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Love the analogy, as well as the talk of food. Always a winner with me. Growing up and living in California, I am just so spoiled--we really don't have to can or freeze anything. (Unless we don't want to buy it--but fresh stuff is available for a lot longer, here). I don't even know how to do it tho I believe I own a used canner--it's around here somewhere. I remember the revelation it was to me to realize that, back in the old days, before canning, etc. they ate so very differently and literally had to gorge on certain foods to store the nutrients up in their bodies over the winter. It was the best they could do. Kind of mind boggling, huh?

Miss Brandy | October 20, 2008 at 9:44 PM

Oh I love to can. I nearly dance around the house cleaning up the enormous mess it creates while listening to the popping lids. I really really hate to be cold, but I think the harvest season is something I would ache for if we moved somewhere perpetually warm.

Also, as much as I hate FaceBook, I signed up to find out more about a nienie charity event and I've gotten in touch with more old friends before I'd even so much as put up a photo!

Kazzy | October 20, 2008 at 10:10 PM

Yes, Facebook is great for tracking down people and keeping in touch, but not much else. Hooray for real blogging!

charrette | October 20, 2008 at 11:18 PM

Love the analogy to preserving people!

Just before my mom died she gave us some bottled apples, just like you just finished putting up. We reveled in their deliciousness...until there was just one jar left. Then I wanted to hang onto that last one forever, that labor of love...because I think I was somehow afraid that once that last bottle of apples was gone, she would be too, but as long as we still had one...we still had a part of her right there with us.

A little sappy. Sentimental. But so true.

Kazzy | October 21, 2008 at 6:47 AM

Sweet, C. I can totally see the relevance of your mom's hard work in a tangible form being so important to you. Thanks.

togetherforgood | October 22, 2008 at 7:45 AM

I'm so glad I clicked on your blog this morning. I have some friends who I need to be in touch with. Thanks for the lovely reminder.