I put up 12 half-pint jars of strawberry freezer jam this last weekend, the most home ec activity I've undertaken in at least two years.
That follows staying in an apartment at work, a cabin high atop Lake Lemon in Indiana and a series of cheap hotels in multiple states.
The first time I put up freezer jam was 20 years ago, when I lived in Lansing, Michigan with my wife and baby kid. Not a goat but an actual human being in miniaturized form. We picked out in the filled, where baby kid at little berries, leaves and all. We hulled and mashed until the kitchen was filled with strawberries and then made a low-sugar jam. (Have you ever seen the amount of sugar in jam recipes? It makes soda pop seem healthy.)
As the year passed after that batch, we were always amazed at how fresh the jam tasted on thawing. You could almost taste the summer sun on them.
I promised I'd do that every year.
But the next summer was busy as we had moved to a new town and a couple years later we moved into a new house. Then after the divorce, I continued my peripatetic ways. I was tired, money was tight.
Every year I'd tell myself, "I'll do jam next year."
Twenty years slipped by.
That almost happened again this year and strawberry season was slipping away, even though I rationalized again. I didn't have my cooking equipment. I worked everyday.
Until late last week when I said to myself, "No more next year, damnit."
I made a mad dash to some hardware stores for jars and equipment and then called a Mennonite farmer who advertises in our newspaper.
"Any strawberries left?" I asked.
"Yep," he said.
"Can you save me a bucket?"
"See you in 15 minutes."
In those 15 minutes, Andy -- the Mennonite farmer -- and his wife raced out into the 90-degree weather and picked a fresh bucket for me from vines where strawberries seemed scant.
For his work, I promised I'd buy all my fresh veg from his family this summer.
And now I have 12 half-pints at one jar a month for the next year, strawberries that taste like summer.
Peace and jam unto all of you my brothers and sisters.