The canning season is here. The shelves have been cleared and surveyed, the jars sorted—pint and quart, large and small mouthed—new lids purchased, canning dishcloths, stained with last year’s blackberries and beets, found, and foraging has begun. A few weeks ago, Mark and I clambered about on a friend’s roof, picking cherries and watching a cold front blow in from the west. The next day, I pitted cherries until my hands were deep purple, choosing some for a pie, packing most into the dehydrator and the rest into jars for the winter’s granola and yogurt. Then rather than hauling everything back downstairs to the far corners, I transformed The Larder (a space half way down to the cellar) into the canning storage unit.
Today I pickled beets from Sunbow. It is cool and clear out with a nice breeze, perfect canning weather. Two loads of laundry are flapping on the line—t shirts, underwear, jeans and a lovely flowered tablecloth. The chickens are cheerfully fussing over whose turn it is to sit in the nest area; Agnes is turning into the yard’s labor coach and the entire neighborhood knows it. The house smells of vinegar and sugar and allspice simmering on the stove while I peel and chop the beets—once again, it looks like a massacree has taken place on the counters. Clean jars wait for the vegetables and brine; my steam canner—a wonderful invention!—waits for the filled jars. Old music plays in the radio. It is a perfect morning and this energy will go into the pickles and waft out again this winter, when I go looking for something with color to add to a pale dinner. Summer in a jar, as Greg Brown sang years ago.