Preserving and giving

by | Feb 22, 2018 | Seasons Newsletter, Uncategorized | 8 comments


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

To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.


  1. Hilary

    Oh Juliet, what a precious metaphor of preserving our inner learnings with gratitude and sharing them. I love this reflection and the photos as always are beautiful amongst your writing!

    • Juliet Batten

      Hilary, thank you so much! It’s a wonderful time of year for reflection. I always use my own photos, which means sometimes I have to go on an adventure to get them. I’m glad you find them beautiful.

  2. Penny

    I loved this, Juliet. Loved it. Your photos are exquisite and the quote will be copied into my commonplace book. Thank you.
    I do not preserve/can nature’s bounty, but, I love glass jars; their shapes, their lids, holding them. I keep things in them such as nuts, granola, chocolate chips and I use them to take soup to those who may be in need of some comfort.
    I hope that I am preserving some of my life in my jottings, photos, and in stories to tell. I hope.

    • Juliet Batten

      Penny, I can just imagine your glass jars full of goodies. I bet the grandchildren love them too; and the soup — bottled comfort! Your blog is also a wonderful record of your stories. I wonder if you’d had a book made of your posts? I used to do that each year when I was using blogger. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  3. Virginia Garlick

    Dear Juliet,
    I loved your newsletter about preserving. I also inherited my mother’s penchant for preserving, The day before I was born, in late autumn, my mother had so much energy she canned bushels of peaches and joked that she almost named me Peaches! When I first came to NZ I sourced jars from the City Council and put up as much that grew in friend’s gardens as I could find. Auckland had a climate where things were abundant and eatable all year long. Preserving was how I first survived here, bottling jars of chutney, jam and marmalades for a local market. I enjoy holding in mind the bountiful harvest of my memories in moments out walking, savouring then allowing them to drift away, like steam from a preserving pan.

    • Juliet Batten

      Virginia, what a beautiful story about preserving! Thank you so much for sharing it so generously. I love the image of your memories drifting like steam from a preserving pan. Your mother certainly passed on something to you.

  4. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – gosh those look wonderful – lovely photos too … an area of abundant beauty … giving and receiving. Delightful post … not having children I’ve never preserved things – I’ve done it occasionally … but miss doing it – I remember our jelly net being out over night … when I was young. Sadly I’ve lost (they were thrown away by someone who was thoughtless – the less said the better) my mother’s recipes and she never wrote her stories down … she probably would have if she’d have had grandchildren. Wonderful post – cheers Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Thanks Hilary. A jelly net – now that’s a new one for me, and I’m not sure what it is. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


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