Man, what’s with me? Goodness knows, I’m old enough to know better. What made me scoop up all those baskets of fresh strawberries on that trip into town? Particularly since I solemnly promised myself years ago, I wouldn’t do that again.
I know from experience that bringing home peaches, pears, plums, and strawberries when they are in season is nothing more than a ‘make work project’. I know that, but still the groceries are put away and I am now face-to-face with four large baskets of fresh strawberries in the middle of my table with mocking seedy little eyes peering through plastic weave prisons directly at me.
“So, now what are you going to do with us? Particularly since we are the freshest we will be at this very moment. And you can stop kidding yourself. Tomorrow, even tomorrow, slow deterioration will be setting in.”
There’s no point in explaining that I’ve had a lot of company, and yesterday I planted a monster garden including solo-planting of five eternally-long rows of potatoes. There’s no point in explaining that I am utterly pooped and that this rainy day was to be a Rest and Recovery Day. There’s no point in any of it.
So I head to the cellar and gather up jars and lids and begin washing, scalding, and sterilizing. And while that is happening I make a quick trip to the garden, to do nothing more than admire the hard labor of yesterday, but end up distracted by all that young, crisp, tender, sweet (?) rhubarb that also longs to be tended to while in its prime.
So now I have two pails of rhubarb and all those strawberries ‘yipe’ing at me about the immediacy of freshness and flavor. For just a moment I consider the easiest solution is to mix them all together and make jam.
But no, the strawberries want to stand alone. And the rhubarb isn’t too pleased either. So more jars from the basement and two large pots on the stove. One for pure strawberry jam, and one for my standard fuss-free rhubarb jam I usually make companioned with strawberry jello.
Now what struck me midst my exhaustion and dragging feet and frustration at having to deal with all this stuff, was the business of ‘sweet’ rhubarb. Surely words are to convey exactly what we are doing and how we are feeling. So what’s with that ever-more repeated phrase ‘crisp, young, SWEET rhubarb’?
Man, if rhubarb is sweet, then so is barbed-wire scrapes, wasp stings, and sour milk.
But still life goes on. Eventually the jam is jarred, the kitchen reconstructed and the mess cleaned up. And on the counter are six jars of strawberry jam and ten jars of rhubarb and strawberry-jello jam and the small bit of overage in two small saucers. So now the taste test.
I taste the strawberry.
Yum. Field-fresh and sunshine good.
I taste the rhubarb.
How sweet it is.
Now I’m going to get a fluffy blanket and I’m going to the big chair for a very long rainy-day nap.