Early, on a dark winter morning, freezing feet shuffling in front of the open door of the fridge, blankly staring into the bright shining depths, I came to a realization.
One: it was dark outside, and cold. Especially with the fridge door open.
Winter was encroaching, or here, shiver.
And the white snow gleaming outside under the yellowed cast of lights from our kitchen windows only served to make it feel even colder inside.
Two: I had absolutely no idea what to make for dinner.
And the most important.
We were out of homemade strawberry jam.
Gone, kaput, spoon rattling in a empty jar, totally out of jam.
And it’s only December.
For the glistening jar of dark purple colored summer gem, that has sat half full, or half empty depending upon your perspective.
Disrespected, ignored, in the fridge since it was opened a little while ago by a well meaning family member, who shall remain unnamed, but blamed?
Neglected, this particular homemade jam is the wall flower of summer.
The remaining 5 jars crammed into the corner of the freezer, wrapped in multiple layers of plastic bags to hide it’s disapproving stares.
Ignored, lonely, sad, and forlorn.
Not for this jam the glorious taste testing dip of a spoon each time the metal lid is pried off of the glass mason jar.
Nor would the heady fragrance of a strawberry summer waft into the kitchen as it is smeared onto toast, spread over pancakes, and spooned over the mornings bounty of homemade yogurt.
We take jam seriously around here, when your Sister has a Strawberry farm, you pretty much have it made in the jam department.
But this…this jam was the black sheep of summer.
The honeyed tryst of too many berries, too tired of a jam maker, the love child of August, and September, was shunned by all of us.
And it showed.
Was that mold growing at the top of the jar, glittering lights shining from the fridge through the indented glass jar showed a smear of whitish mould. I silently cheered, and then felt really bad that I was conjuring up a reason to rid ourselves of the accusing jar of jam that no one liked.
The one that despite all encouragement, bribery, begging, no one would eat, sitting unwanted on the gleaming glass shelf of the fridge. I gave myself a scolding for looking for a reason to remove that unrelenting dark purple glass stare. Despite the fact that it pushed it’s self to the front each time the light was shut off, and the door closed.
It’s not like it came from a bad family, or had a unbalanced upbringing…..it’s just that the mix of blueberries, cherries, and rhubarb was as my husband put it.
It`s fine it`s just not your Mom’s strawberry jam.
Her jam is a heady mix of ambrosia.
Hot summer days, perfectly ripened Okanagan strawberries gently picked by hand, in the early morning heat, sugar, and love.
Opening a jar of her freezer jam is like no other memory of summer.
Despite the repeated batches she makes, whipping up berries, and sterilizing every jar she can find, there is never enough to last through the winter.
Unless we were to eat the “I’m too tired after making Peach jam, apricot jam, salted brown sugar peach jam, and cherry jam to do anything with these blueberries, and rhubarb kind of jam” that I had thrown together at the end of the summer.
So the love child of summer languishes in the fridge, growing new types of bacteria, ignored, unloved, unspooned, and regretted.
While the strawberries of summer giggle in our warm memories.
But Christmas is coming, and there are many unsuspecting friends who might just love to receive a jar of dark purple summer. I have a freezer full of them.
No regifting allowed.
Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams