I was on a quest. At first it seemed a simple enough thing to ask: who does home preserving, and has jars of produce that I might photograph?
What would you have said?
A few replies arrived on Facebook. Avrael has preserved 17 jars of pears and some apricots, but she lives in Christchurch. Elaine in Whenuapai (rural Auckland) has just bottled three jars of windfall peaches from her garden. Tricia from Taranaki has been bottling rhubarb. Mark from his ecovillage in Ithaca, USA, has bottled (they say ‘canned’) enough apple sauce, tomatoes, and jam for nearly a year. But it’s a wee bit too far to travel.
I came to the bach for a four-day rest and retreat, to ground back to the earth. Earth connection, I find, brings answers to conundrums. Sure enough, I soon knew what to do.
I phoned my neighbour
‘Yes, come now and I’ll get them down from the top shelf,’ she said.
Kathy still had jars of tomatoes, grape jelly, chutney and relish from the days when she did so much of this that she had surplus to sell.
As I arranged the produce for the photo, Kathy started diving into her garden to bring more and more of her harvest: a big bunch of parsley, a long shiny chilli pepper, tamarillos, new season’s apples, and the bright blooms of zinnias.
I was in the presence of abundance, like the monarch butterflies which were flocking to her zinnias to sup the tasty nectar. In the way of gardeners and rural dwellers, it was natural for Kathy to keep giving and giving from the bounty of her land. I walked back to the bach with my arms and heart full.
There are also other ways to preserve
Storing and preserving doesn’t just happen on a physical level. In the midst of summer’s ripeness, you might like to ponder on how you store the inner fruit from your own life.
Do you gather it consciously?
Conscious accumulation happens through offering gratitude, appreciating the good and shifting awareness away from scarcity and complaint.
This may change as you age
Having gathered your inner harvest, how might you share it? With the advance of age, many discover a natural urge to pass on the fruits of their life to others.
My mother found a new way in later life.
My mother’s preserving pan
My mother always had a huge preserving pan on the boil through late summer. She preserved cases of apples, peaches and pears, made guava and cranberry jelly, and bottled blackberries in jars that glowed in the slanting light of autumn.
When in her late 70s, she became disabled and unable to walk she had to accustom herself to long periods of sitting. I gave her a blank journal and asked her to write about her childhood, and so began the process of recording her life stories. She filled four journals, and to her five children, they are precious to taste, as vibrant as blackberries, bright as golden queen peaches and as glowing as guava jelly.
I inherited her preserving pan, and continued her practice of bottling summer fruit. Now I no longer bottle in jars, but have learned to bottle my life experiences between the covers of books.
And my Seasons Newsletter (from which this blog is extracted), begun in July 2010, is an overflow from my garden of seasonal connection.
Where does your bounty lie?
You too, have your bounty. How do you preserve and pass on your legacy? Do you have stories to tell, songs to sing, pictures to share, or some hand-made object that will become a treasure to someone one day: maybe a carving, a crafted box, an embroidered tea cloth or something else?
If you would you like some help with ways of bringing your gift out of the shadows, check out my creativity mentoring. My memoirs, ‘Touching Snow’ and ‘A Bach for All Seasons’ may be viewed on the books page of this website.
Late summer blessings, and happy gathering,
The harvest of old age is the recollection and abundance of blessing previously secured.
—Marcus Tullius Cicero
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