When I was a little girl, I remember my grandparents and aunt coming over to our house for "garden work." What that really meant was that Daddy (and maybe me too) would go out early in the morning to pick tomatoes or corn or okra or squash or whatever else was ready. If it was corn, we ALL sat around the yard with knives and bowls of corn pulling husks and digging out silks. Then the women moved into the kitchen and canned it all. I remember a day we did corn....it was mushy corn. I hate mushy corn. (That would be translated as cream-style corn.) Another time, I remember we worked on vegetable soup. I had to shell butterbeans for this project. Another time I can remember canning tomatoes. I was a little older at this one, because this time I was in the kitchen helping Mama and Grandmaw and Aunt Thomasene with the tomatoes. I remember being fascinated watching the tomatoes go into the hot water for a few minutes, then dipping them out and watching the cold water split the skins. It was so amazing! And slipping those skins off was too fun! I imagined what it might be like if we dipped a little brother or sister into boiling water and then ice water. Would their skin slip off that easily?
Such memories... sweet memories. Grandmaw and Paw are no longer with us. Mama and Daddy live in another state. Aunt Thomasene has a different life now. My memories continue though.
When we moved to Idaho to go to Ricks College, it turned out that someone in our apartment complex was also from Georgia! It was someone I had known in the Douglasville ward, so that was really cool! I made great friends with his wife, and together she and I canned some apples and some pickles. I learned a lot from her. Somehow we canned those things even with her 4 kids and my little Manti all underfoot. Not one time we did feel the need to nail them to a wall to get them out of the way! I don't know how that happened! I remember that she couldn't wait 6 weeks for her pickles to "pickle" and she had them opened and eaten before 3 weeks was up! I sure did love Anna. I learned a lot from her.
And then there was the time we moved BACK to Idaho to try and finish school. Tonya was my best friend....she was more to me than she will ever know. She still is! One day, she and I went to another friends house and we picked cherries. We picked a BUNCH of them too! They were pie cherries, so together we canned cherry jam and some cherry pie filling. It was MOST AMAZING! Tonya helped me develop a side of myself I didn't believe in.
Once we came back to Georgia, Angie Harcrow and I got to be good friends. She helped me can my first batch of green beans. It was the first time I had ever used a pressure canner. Let me tell you, it was SCARY! I just knew that pot was going to blow up! We canned a lot of beans, and we laughed a lot. I loved every hot minute of it. The next time I wanted to can green beans, I had to call Angie and ask to borrow her canner. She let me! And the year after that, SHE LET ME AGAIN! She's let me use her canner almost as often she's used it herself! Now that's a good friend!
Two years ago, Tommy bought me my own pressure canner. With my job and his disability and all the responsibilities tied to me and my time, I didn't get to can last year. This year, I wanted to can so badly! Last week, Manti picked me a 5 gallon bucket full of green beans. I was afraid I wouldn't have time to can them. I was seriously worried. Friday night, I asked Mesa if she felt like helping me and learning a little about it. She shocked me by saying "sure", so we headed to the kitchen. I showed her what to do, and she did it. She canned 12 quarts of green beans largely by herself!
Now, I have a new memory!
And perhaps Mesa does too. This is the point of my post: if you have memories tied to canning, relive them often. Give them as a gift to your children, to your girlfriends, to your neighbors...to anyone who comes into your life. Someone will treasure the memory you preserve as they preserve foods in the future. What a blessing to all involved!
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