“Putting Up” Your Bounty
This week I have barely stepped foot into my studio, all my creative energy has been in the kitchen. 20 pounds of apples from the Ranch trees and my mom’s orchard, a squishy box of ripe and ready peaches from my neighbor and coworker Cecilia, tomatoes weighing down the vines in the yard, pears in the antique orchard out in the back property calling to be picked or lost. I pondered, picked and cooked up apple, peach and pear butter, roasted tomatoes and experimented with homemade ketchup, stocking up on bounty. I remember my grandmother canning peaches and making pickles, jams and jellies the rows and rows of jars she “put up” for the winter. In one of my childhood homes there was an actual cellar, a dark and musty place dug below the house with a big door at angle to the yard with rough shelves that held jars of peaches and cherries, pickles, jams, and tomatoes all “put up” for another time. All that bounty “put up” to use later. A way to stave off the long cold winter, to remind us of summer in the midst of January by opening a can of peaches “put up” in August. Now a days we don’t need to “put up” summer fruits and vegetables to survive the winter, our grocery stores are filled year round with anything we want, shipped from all over the world. But I wonder about what we have lost in this transition to convenience. There is a spiritual metaphor here, of taking the bounty that is offered and not letting it go to waste. You can’t use it all now, there is no way to eat through all those tomatoes, and peaches, and pears no matter how we try. All that bounty will go bad with waiting, you must bring it into the kitchen and chop and cook and stir and taste and spice, then can it, freeze it, bag it, dry it, share it, whatever it takes to “put it up” for the future for the cold winter ahead, the cold winter that is bound to come no matter how we try to hold it at bay. So even if you can’t get in the kitchen to “put up” jewels of summer’s bounty into tidy jars of future flavor, you can take a little time to “put up” a bit of this spiritual summer. Gather up the long summer light, the birds on the warm breeze, the smell of tall dried grasses mixed with the dust on the road, cooked it up, can it up, seal it up, and “put it up”. Winter will come, but we’ll be ready!
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