You have heard that it has been said by them of old time, and it is also now written before you, that when presented with an over-abundance of lemons; make lemonade. But I say unto you, seek to preserve all fruit that comes your way by preserving, especially canning! Growing up Arens, preserving was no mystery. Great Grandmother and grand matriarch Goodrich is the first practitioner to come to mind. Both Grandmothers, Mom, Godmother, Aunts, and extended family members continue the art. A brother-in-law of an aunt still influences my olive curing. All have contributed to my encouragement to try my hand and dive into conserving the bounty of abundance. Strawberry jam was my first salvo on my own.
I am glad that I didn’t give it too much thought, or I would have easily cowered out. It was back in the season of my life when I was working with clients from the Central Coast north to Redding. When I came across a strawberry stand, I would stop. Ok, I searched them out and had a couple that I was pleased with and frequented. I liked to leave a visit with leaving behind a basket or two. As it would happen, I purchased a few too many and a wild hair just called out as I looked sadly over a surplus that would most likely go to waste because I had reached that point for the moment that I tired of the red berries.
And thoughtlessly, I proceeded to conquer strawberry jam. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, how can one tell if he gets it right? I knew my mix of crushed berries and sugar was spot on because it was still pleasing to the taste buds after my fruit gorge. My dilemma was in not desiring to poison anyone I might like to leave my wares with. According to UC Extension info, a water bath would take care of this anxiety. After following the instructions, it boiled down to a matter of watch and wait, wait and watch.
I got tired of it and retired to bed. I am a light sleeper. It was about 2:30 dark time when I was startled from slumber by a noise I was not familiar with. One person living in a house doesn’t produce much racket, especially sleeping. After that intrusion, I wasn’t going back to dozing. I stared at the ceiling pondering the situation and trying desperately to place the sound. It appeared as if time was at a standstill. Then I heard it again. The next one didn’t take as long to follow suit. A total of twenty-four ‘pings’ sounded, certain audible pops in the night. The music to my ears was the successful bathing of my pint jars of jam with all lids now securely sealed. No play in the least. It was a rather pleasing symphony to my venture into the un-comfort zone.
Even in times like these, we are capable of finding an abundant life if we choose. I was out on the golf course on the warmest day of 2021 thanks to my golfing buddy. I found sunshine and exceptional company and all the best shots and pars necessary to lull me into a false sense of dreaming of possibilities that I might be a golfer one day. I even ended the day ahead with more oranges than I could possibly eat. Friends are the ‘Abundant Life’. So my lemonade is marmalade. I still have lady luck on my side and pulled it off, but Mom does make it look deceivingly easy. The Grad declares she wants to make strawberry jam. I will be pleased to rise to this challenge. Godspeed. ♣