Can I show you one of my favorite picture book drawings? It's Sal and her mom, canning blueberries. I really love the full spread of the picture which includes the old-fashioned kitchen that is neat as a pin. Look at Mother, so elegant in her sweater and skirt, neatly coiffed hair, and frilly apron. There's not a spot of blue on her. She's so brave to let Sal help her "store up food for winter".
On one hand, I wish I had a picture of what I and my kitchen looked like yesterday as I attempted to store up food for winter. On the other hand, I'm glad I was too harried and too sticky to pick up a camera. Tomato sauce had dried onto the stove. Cinnamon syrup oozed down the cupboards onto the floor. I kept misplacing my jar lifter. Skinny red apple peels fell on the floor and got carted around the kitchen by my littlest one who woke up from her nap too soon and found her favorite place at my feet. My hair was held up in several jaw clips and barrettes in the attempt to keep it out of my face. My apron was filthy. I kept shooing the older two kids out of the kitchen. I'm a long way from being Sal's mother.
On top of it all, the jars of apples I processed didn't seal. The syrup oozed out during the boiling water bath. The tomato sauce did seal, thankfully, and there's nothing quite like the sound of the pop of the lid when they do! I kept finding myself asking how on earth the women of yore did this???? Many had more children than I do, fewer kitchen amenities, and maybe not even electricity! Processing 21 jars took me all day and made me a mad woman. It's rather nice having a row of jars all ready to store, but the novelty wears off when you find that you really just don't enjoy this.
I told a friend recently that I have two sides to me- one that pretty much wants to be Amish- the "simple" life (if you call living without electricity and indoor plumbing "simple). The other wants to be Modern Mama. I like my Yukon. I like my cute-cut jeans. I like fancy cooking ingredients. I love my computer! The appeal of the Amish- or even the earlier part of the 20th century- is that there was less and sometimes less is indeed more. Mostly, less stuff to distract me from what is really important.
Yesterday, with my foot in both worlds, I discovered that although this canning thing could be great someday, it is just not as simple as it seems. It took a lot of time and caused me a lot of stress. More than once I thought, Is this really worth it? I'm missing out on Saturday with my kids. I've got 7 quarts of unsealed apples and 13 pints of tomato sauce, but who cares? I turned into a bear trying to make it happen.
Modern Mama took over again last night and almost ordered a pizza due to the fact that I hated that kitchen by the time the last jar came out of the pot. But today, the simple woman dreams of the yummy roast chicken I'm going to prepare for dinner while wearing my homemade apron. No doubt, my kitchen will be a mess cause that's just the kind of cook I am. But I've got a dishwasher to clean up the plates afterward and the house will smell so good. It's the best of both worlds, what can I say?