It's the end of summer and that means canning. What is canning some of you might ask, it's where you take your harvest and bottle it up. Think of it like capturing summer with it's sun and warmth and plenty in a jar so you can eat it in January. Yesterday I did peaches.
Is there a better way to remember summer? I don't think so.
My peaches went from this:
Anywho, I talked with a friend last night about canning, and we somehow ended up in my grandma's cellar. Not in real life, but in my memories. My grandma had a real cellar, the kind you had to descend into down wobbly stairs, past the cobwebs and into the earth. We're talking the kind of cellar with dirt walls and support pillars crafted out of wood so old it was probably taken from the Arc.
The place was spooky. Things lived in it. Creepy crawly things.
Whenever we visited my grandma I got the job of retrieving bottled green beans, or pickled beats, or the bottled tomato sauce that we called moon juice because it looked like it belonged on the surface of the moon, all cratered and otherworldly until you shook it up.
Can you imagine me as a seven-year-old trembling my way down those stairs into the darkness armed only with a flashlight and a grandma's request? And then there was the smell, tombish and dank. To me it smelled like spiders, and they glared at me from their webs draped across the yellowed foam insulation that connected the cellar to the house like bloated caterpillars. This was were nightmares came to die.
And food did, too. Grandma didn't have new food all fresh and full of sunlight. She'd stopped canning years before when she realized she wouldn't live to eat what she did have.
Grandma had bottled relish from the dawn of time, stacked on shelves cut into the dirt walls and draped in decades of dust. And she ate it. She ate all of the old stuff down there because after living though the great depression she couldn't waste what she had.
I remember sticking my hand into that blanket of dust and cobwebs to pull out green beans so old they'd turned brown, then shuddering my way up to daylight. I was always sure we'd die from eating Grandma's old food. I'd sit at dinner and pray, never touching my beans, just waiting to call 911 when someone killed over from botulism. No one ever did, but I won't eat old beans. Ever.
So, what does this have to do with anything? I don't know, but I do know that my fresh peaches with all their summer warmth don't belong in a cellar. They belong in steaming peach cobbler and pies dripping with homemade ice cream, devoured in front of a cozy fire as snow falls in drifts. You can bottle goodness--just don't put it in my grandma's cellar.