One of my fondest memories of my mom was when we canned tomatoes every year. We went early Saturday mornings to the Riverside Round House market in Czech Village.. We’d buy up a box of ugly tomatoes (or they’d be donated from friends and family) and for the rest of the day, we’d can tomatoes. We’d get out the kettles, colanders, funnels, lids, rings, jars, empty the dishwasher, fill it with jars and we’d be on our way. It was a lot of work, and it took FOREVER it seemed. But we had fun. We’d have nachos and sit by the pool. But we spent time together. And whether or not she intended to, she taught me a skill that would take me through my adulthood and now, I’m enjoying that skill with my own kids. I have recently learned that my mom used to can more than just tomatoes, though that’s all she did with me, she canned pickles and fruits, jams and jellies.
Much like my memories of making candy or baking with my Aunt Sally, it makes me feel “at home” again. “At Home” in that way that you are most familiar with. The home that is in your heart. That feeling that makes your chest tighten and that feeling that makes you nostalgic for your childhood. I really think it’s a lost art and science. I wish more families would take it up and teach their children to preserve. It’s a skill that will take them through tough times if needed, and if not needed, it will fill them with pride at being able to make something that will nourish their family without the threat of unknown chemicals in their food.
I’m now creating those memories with my children. What a gift my mother gave me. (And you too Aunt Sally.)
Even though they’re young, and Brighton doesn’t particularly appreciate the taste of a home grown tomato, especially one that has been canned, he will. They do love the other homemade things that I make, and that makes me feel wonderful, like I’m doing something right. I hope they will remember these things fondly as I remember my experiences with mom and Sal.
So to you both, thank you for giving me the gift of those wonderful memories, and my children will one day thank you, and pass the skill onto their children.