An Artist's Quest

Fruitful Alchemy

I’ve stepped back a bit from the canning jars and boiling pots this week to enjoy a bit of last weeks labor.  My morning is sublime with apple butter spread sticky and thick across crunchy crusty buttered toast.  Ah such sweet labor.  Part of me balks at opening a jar so soon, isn’t the point of all this canning and preserving to save it for later?  It’s only been a week, for heaven sake.  But no it’s meant to be eaten, finger lick’n, lip smack’n, eaten!   I’ll admit the urge to hoard, and whisper “mine, all mine” while wringing my hands in greedy glee but I’m usually able to remember these bounty days will return along with a kitchen full of fruitful alchemy. The bounty is meant to be shared.  There is nothing more satisfying than bringing a jar of jam to a friend’s house as a hostess gift or thank you, it’s like bringing a painting home to mom in first grade, ceremoniously holding it up and beaming “I made this!”  The idea of preserving and consuming seem to be on either end of the teeter-totter of human urges. But “putting up” ones bounty is about doing both.  I’ve been thinking about all the ways we put up, can, and preserve bits of us.  I think that making art has some of the same elements, making something beautiful or expressive or both put into a tidy package of a painting or photograph sealing up an idea or moment to share like berries in a jar.  My dad sent me an email after last weeks post about putting up all those jeweled jars of jam, he mused that perhaps he and my mom had “put up” their genes in the five grandchildren who now wander the planet as sweet and spicy and full of pleasure and potential as a jar of apple butter.  Well put I thought, so while our bodies will some day be consumed we each “put up” a part of ourselves in our children, our friends, our art, our writing, and in the simple act of living fully and truly.

This Still Life with Apple Butter drawing was done on my new birthday Ipad! Thanks to my generous family.  If you would like a print email me and Ill send you an 8×10 for $20.  To see more art from past blog posts and other series go to 


5 responses

  1. The pic and your post brought back memories of my Mother and Granny canning!! Wow thanks a great feeling!!!!

    September 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

    • It’s wonderful how something can bring back a great memory… it keeps that moment and that person alive “put up” for when you need it the most. Enjoy!

      September 9, 2011 at 9:25 am

  2. Jane

    Last week my daughter told me about her adventures in introducing the twin 2 ½ year olds she looks after to cooking, with experiments with cup cakes and homemade pizza. What a trip down memory lane. How much joy it brought to know that what she and I had done twenty years ago was being passed on, just as it had been with my mother and me. All that we “put up” in our children is perhaps, if we are totally honest, driven primarily by some subconscious selfish wish for the betterment of my own family. After all who has time to ponder the rest of the world (as noble as that might be) when you have toddlers at your feet! But how wonderful to be reminded that what we “put up” may in fact reach the store cupboards of unexpected others.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

  3. Mary Thorpe

    Lovely post, Lisa! Again your have inspired me on to get out the kettle and “put up” my tomato bounty. Happily, I found a great new recipe for tomato pasta sauce. I, too, can not wait until cold winter days to eat the fruits of my labor. Tonight it will be pasta night with a some of the tasty sauce, before it ever gets “put up”.


    September 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

  4. MaryAnne

    My grandparents were farmers. I have vivid memories of my grandmother canning her large garden’s vegetables as well as making fruit preserves from the bounty her trees yielded each year. she once remarked that her chest freezer was one of the great improvements to her life along with the automatic washing machine! The freezer enabled her to freeze chickens, butterbeans, corn, pies and cakes. There was no better food than that she served at her table!

    Another poignant memory is the annual baking of fruitcakes . Each fall she baked 20 pounds of rich, dark fruitcake that was served with real whilled cream. Decorating the cakes was an artistic endeavor. She surprised us when, in the last fall season of her life, we arrived to help with the cake baking only to find the fruitcakes arrayed on the kitchen table and a broad smile on my Grandmother’s face! She definitely “put up” all of her abundant blessings.

    September 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

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