Archive for October, 2009

If I Were a Poet: Reflections on a Fall Walk with Son and Falling Leaves.

October 15, 2009


October 11, 2009

If I Wrote Poetry, I would describe well, the beauty and the sound of the serviceberry leaves falling from their branches as my son and I walked along a wooded path. With words, I would simulate how at peace I felt when I recognized the sound similarities between these leaves falling and that of a gentle rain.

If I Wrote Poetry, I would also describe the joy that I felt when my son and I paused and stood still, to witness the serviceberry leaves as they slowly glided downward, with their slight ruffling as they nudged each other to the ground or ran into an unsuspecting goldenrod or wild aster.

If I Wrote Poetry, I would speak to you of the love I felt for my son, my life, and that rare moment when I took the time to stop and listen to the leaves falling, while holding my son close to my chest.

If I Wrote Poetry, I would tell you of the almost constant turmoil within my mind. The confusion, anger, fear, and sadness, that I did not feel at that moment when I observed the serviceberry leaves disengaging from their branches.

What I felt was joy, love, and happiness especially when my son laughed at the leaves falling and pointed to the bird above and said “whas-dat?” “Its a bird” I said, “a beautiful bird”.

Got Tomatoes!

October 6, 2009

I recently emailed a friend with the very cryptic message, “I’ve got tomatoes,” telling him about my harvesting bounty, he was generous with his response but was a little ambivalent about the tomatoes.

I guess, that maybe I am also a little ambivalent about them as well, or at least overwhelmed by the shear quantity of tomatoes that I have harvested and preserved this year. In fact, I have three five-gallon buckets of them on my porch as I compose this blog entry, most of which my son and I will take to the local food pantry tomorrow. I might even give a few to my son to pop open. He loves to squash them in his hand and squirt the seeds and juices all over his bare feet. One day I will to teach him about the importance of not wasting food, but not now. At the moment, I enjoy watching him experiment with his environment and world, a few lost tomatoes to his budding intellect and curiosity is well worth sacrificing. When he starts throwing rotten tomatoes at unsuspecting pedestrians, I might attempt to put a stop to the wasting of this precious fruit, but then again maybe I won’t! Such an act has great potential to reveal some very interesting aspects about the human condition. I know that, I wouldn’t mind lobbing a few tomatoes at some members of society. Alas, I digress.

The truth is, I feel very fortunate and thankful for such an abundant harvest this year, and that I have had the time and the opportunity to grow and store so much food for the coming winter months. If all goes well, and the root vegetables and squash store adequately, we should have enough veggies to supply us until spring, when we will harvest asparagus for the first time, and until I can once again plant some spinach and early lettuce.

Fall is definitely here and the weather report for next week calls for nights in the mid 30’s to 40’s. I will have to clean up the squashes and bring them inside soon, and I hope we won’t have a frost quite yet. Since my spouse and I have decided to downsize our income, living by the seasons as well as planting and preserving food will most likely become a very intricate part of our lives, especially mine.

For those of you who are interested in food preservation, I thought I would give you a visual crash course in the caning and preserving of tomato sauce. More in-depth technical information can be found in the book list provided below. I found the Ball Blue Book of Preserving to be a great starter text for canning information, though I often call home for tips from mom.

Canning Crash Course

Boiling down diced tomatoes

Boiling down diced tomatoes

Blending tomatoes with antique hand mixer

Blending tomatoes with antique hand mixer

Straining tomatoes with hand strainer

Straining tomatoes with hand strainer

Pouring hot tomato sauce in sterilized canning jars

Pouring hot tomato sauce in sterilized canning jars

Placing tomato sauce in water bath to be boiled for 40 minutes

Placing tomato sauce in water bath to be boiled for 40 minutes

Fully processed tomato sauce

Fully processed tomato sauce

Canning tools used

Canning tools used

Teaching Son the joys of canning

Teaching Son the joys of canning

Got Tomatoes Reading List

Ball Blue Book of Preserving Ball Brothers Company, Inc.

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, by Carol W. Costenbader

Canning and Preserving without Sugar, by Norma M. MacRAE, R.D.

Got Tomatoes Tool List

Water Bath Processing Pot and Jar Holder

Large Stainless-steel Pot

Hand Mixer

Hand Strainer

Canning Tongs

Lid Tightening Tongs

Large Mouth Funnel

Canning Jars/Lids

Got Tomatoes Play List

Nick Drake,  A Treasury

Johnny Cash,  At Folsom Prison

Steve Earle, Jerusalem

What my Son Could Have Contributed but Didn’t

One of the ways I am able to tire my son out for his afternoon nap is to put him in his bright yellow pouch on my back. This is the time of day when I am able to get a few things done around the house, like mixing up bread dough, sweeping the floor, and doing dishes. One of his requirements for allowing me to put him in his pouch is to allow him to hold onto a toy. Most of the time, this is one of his toy cars, which he holds onto until the opportune time comes to toss it into the dishwater, a mixing bowl, or any random container. I am then required to retrieve the toy car and return it to its owner so that he can continue to practice his exceptional aim. Thanks to my spouse’s excellent parenting abilities, I was free of the yellow pack and my son’s curve-ball/car which most definitely would have ended up in the tomato sauce.