Friday, December 12, 2014

It’s not your Mom’s strawberry jam

 

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. 

Strawberries in white bowl

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.

Except.

For the glistening jar of dark purple colored summer gem, that has sat half full, or half empty depending upon your perspective. 

Mocking us.

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. 

Strawberries in white cup

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.

Unloved. 

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.

Blue plates and strawberry

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 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The procrastinators lament

 

OUCH” he says, and I cringe.

“That must have hurt,” I tell him, handing over yet another string of seemingly endless Christmas lights.

The bitter cold makes the strings difficult to untangle, and as he stood up he hit something hard with his head.

Post in frosty field

Gloves not holding out the bitter cold, sun laughing at our weak attempts to warm up in it’s rays.

“Stupid hanging baskets” he mutters, probably thinking why on earth do they have to be hanging around.

A good question I suppose, maybe someone forgot to take them down?

Or maybe someone [I guess it was me] was going to fluff them out a bit more with some seasonal winter decor.

Adding some crisp, fragrant evergreen branches gathered from the farm, and pinecones foraged from beneath the towering pines that lined the bluff. 

A few festive ribbons, some lights, and the seasonal decorating would be done before the weather turned.

But then…life, stuff, things, got in the way.

It got put off for another day.

And another.

Magpie nest in tree

The beautiful Autumn weather ebbed away…sure I added a branch or two, even a armful of dried hydrangea blooms that I managed to cut in the garden before Nature turned on us.

The hanging baskets hung, like laundry half dried, finished to the eyes from the street, but not equal to what I had in my head.

And then it got cold.

A early cold snap, my ex farmer neighbour told me…it might even last a while.

Cold as in very, very cold, frozen icicles made from clear dripping water kind of cold.

Hat, and gloves, plug your truck in, wrap that scarf, and scrape the windshield each time you go out kind of cold.

Slippery roads, and frozen ground feathered with snow.

The pinecones sat waiting, chores needed to be done.

And it got colder.

Perfectly useful evergreen branches fell from trees during nightly snowfalls. Slipping through trees, noises cracking us awake in the middle of the night.

Mornings brought them to light, frozen to the ground, ice and snow sticking like Velcro.  

The calendar rolled on, like it always does, despite the piling up of things to be done.

Seasonal decorating got moved back until it warmed up.

It continued to get colder and colder.

Tree branches in pink sky

There hang the baskets, beautiful, dark cone shaped, filled with branches, and twigs, hydrangea blossoms all pushed into soil that once, long ago, wasn’t frozen solid.

Now it is cold.

And unless I’m willing to bring out a blow torch and risk a fire, nothing is going to melt that icy soil in time for Christmas.

Ah, the lament of those that put things off.

But for every procrastinator there is a optimist’s exclamation.

You never know, maybe the weather’s going to break!

 

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Middle aged rebellion

 

Well, we have gone and done it.

After years of denial.

Telling ourselves the we weren’t those kind of people. 

Life quote

That there was no way we would ever do it.

Never be those kind of people that we secretly made fun of….

And now we’ve done it.

We’ve joked about reaching middle age, how it changed people.

Smirking at those who reached that middle of life milestone, and went out and got them. 

It seemed sad in a way, as if they were denying that they were aging…defying it to happen.

And then proudly showing them off, hey look at what we got.

No way we said.

Not going to happen.

Guess what?

They match.

I’m kind of embarrassed to tell you that.

Do you know how much I didn’t want them to match?

It was my biggest criteria.

But it’s done, they match.

Not much we can do about that.

Middle age creeps up on you in a very sneaky way, and you have to fight it all the way.

First it was the progressive lens…just for the small print we told ourselves.

Then it was giving up the high heels, for sensible flats, orthopaedic inserts.

And now.

Middle age has forced us to venture into territory that we swore we would never explore.

They match.

It barely hurt.

It didn’t even take that long.

I’m hoping it’s comfortable.

What were you thinking?

Tattoos?

Don’t be silly.

They’re recliners.

We’re not that rebellious.

After finally admitting that my dreamy charcoal brown brand new sofa isn’t good for my back, I realized that I need a comfortable chair to sit in.  My beloved had just gotten a recliner that is so comfy it makes you fall asleep in minutes. At least that’s what he is blaming it on. 

It seemed prudent to purchase another for myself. 

Middle age here we come, just greet us with open arms, and a smile, OK?

Otherwise, I am going to get matching tattoos.

Jen

I’ve dropped the FB page and Pinterest boards for #FindJoyInTheOrdinary, and #FindJoy for now.  Timing is everything, and I’m having great difficulty keeping up with visiting, and returning comments right now.

Many thanks to everyone who participated, can we give it a try again, maybe in January?  #JanuaryJoy anyone? I have the feeling that we will all be looking for something to fill the gap between Christmas, and Spring, it should be fun.

Jen