This time last year I was canning like mad: pears, peaches, prickly pear, plums. The pantry shelf was full and I felt oh-so self-satisfied. This year,however, I've done practically nothing and last year's jams and preserves are down to a mere handful.
What's the change this time around? Instead of putting up food for us, I'm teaching my middle school outdoor education students the art of canning. With a parent volunteer each student took home 1/2 pint of loganberry jam and today we canned 16 half-pints of prickly pear. I can't exactly call that one jelly, because I'm not convinced it's going to set. It might end up being 16 half-pints of prickly pear syrup. They'll love it just the same.
The Householder's Guide to the Universe comes to mind often these days. Harriet Fasenfest devotes quite a few pages to the notion of working part time, so one can household the rest of the time and I can see why. I've been putting in 10-12 hour days at work and then a few more grading papers at home. It's exhausting and doesn't leave much time for canning or even cooking, for that matter. I'm missing the summer afternoons where I'd start pizza dough at 4 to have for dinner that night and be able to tend to the garden properly. Now I'm just thankful that the tangle of tomatoes are finally ripening and that the volunteer butternut is still chugging along. It's a big mess, with a giant sunflower toppled over into the whole shebang. It has a certain beauty, and the bees and goldfinches love it, but it is a reminder to me of how much I work, how little time I am spending at home, and how I do miss being in the garden and the kitchen on a daily basis.
Don't get me wrong, I really love what I do. I get to teach middle schoolers about convection currents and ecosystems; pythagorean theorem and variables. It's just that I'm seeking some sort of balance. It'll come but by then we'll be in the dead of winter with only dreams of spring ahead.
Happy harvesting and preserving to those who are in a state of abundance!