Monday, September 29, 2008

Bringing in the Sheaves

The Seattle area is being graced with that most splendid of meteorological events, an Indian summer. Long past the point when it is supposed to be warm and pleasant it is, uh, warm and pleasant. The mornings are cool and dewy but the days are full of the sun we should have had in July. The crisp air of autumn is on hold until evening.

I had plans for a very lazy Sunday afternoon, but something about this last burst of warmth tripped the Pa Ingalls wire in The Spouse, who decided it was time to bring in the harvest. So I let him. Knock yourself out with your hops there, Papa Bear, I thought from the smuggery of my computer game, the notion of a nice long nap edging itself into my thoughts.

But after he brought in his bushel of hops, he insisted it was time to go after the grapes. His reasoning was sound. Next weekend we will be too busy (Autumnal Feast + a visit from Buck) and, given the current conditions, the grapes are ready now and will not wait for 2 more weeks.

I frowned. If we picked the grapes, I'd have to convert them into jelly and juice. He didn't expect me to drop everything to do that but using the same "not waiting for 2 weeks" logic, I knew that if the deed were going to be done it would have to be now. So I made a run to the grocery store for pectin and jars.

And may I just say that it delights me no end that here in the 21st century, in an urban center, one can still find Mason jars at Safeway.

We took to the vines with our tubs and scissors and whatever residual gripe I felt was smoothed away by the magic of the vendage. The sun beat down, the grape leaves rustled in the welcome breeze. The Child joined us with an exuberant "I love to pick grapes!"

It was a good harvest.

The Spouse and Child left for a party and I set to washing and stemming. I got out my old blue canner. I'm sure it came from Dame Judi, back in the years when I was in full "urban homesteader" mode. Something spoke to me, as it always does, a tug, deep in the heart, reminding me of farm days and DJ's steaming kitchen and the sweet ephemeral fragrance of fruit filling the house. In so many ways I do not live as my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother did. But in this one thing, at least, we are all connected...the tools and recipes are unchanged and through blue enamel and pectin I am as much the child of my ancestors as it's possible to be.

I measured and boiled and ladled. Then, as I started parceling out the green grapes for juice, I counted the pings as the seals set on the jelly jars...6-7-8....ah, there it was. I called out "nine!" triumphantly...all the jelly will keep.

Then I was done, having added 12, count 'em, 12 quarts of grape juice to the tally. Not a bad afternoon's work after all.

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Blogger Caitlin opined...

What a nice read...

September 29, 2008 6:14 PM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

How nice, you made me tired reading how hard you worked. Now, a little peanut butter with the grape jelly...heaven.

September 29, 2008 7:33 PM  
Blogger Buck opined...

Wonderful post! I loved that pot on the stove.

Can we have a quilting bee next weekend?

September 29, 2008 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Dame Judi opined...

Ah the sights, the smells, the symphony of "ping", the connecting threads that weave the generations tightly together.

Lovely. And please may I come to the quilting bee?

September 29, 2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger Anne opined...

Hey, you can't have a quilt bee with out me!

September 29, 2008 8:51 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Like the old days, Caitlin.

Ooh, Sage, yes! It's the best grape jelly in all the land and is soooooo tasty with peanut butter.

Hell no, Buck. We're going to be too busy cooking. And I. Don't. Sew.

Uh, Mumsie, please refer to my comment to Buck.

Anne, honey, the only way we're ever having a quilting bee is if a) you're there and 2) I Don't. Have. To. Sew.

September 29, 2008 9:21 PM  
Blogger Nicole opined...

Can we make a grape martini type cocktail with some of that juice?

September 29, 2008 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no W)

It was berries at my house. I was always close to my mom and remember helping her make jelly and jam from raspberries and the blackberries that grew all over. I was the picker.



September 30, 2008 2:34 AM  
Blogger greeny opined...

Beautiful. You know how I feel about grapes and jelly and urban homesteading....

September 30, 2008 4:00 AM  
Blogger D.A. opined...

Wow, what scrumptious goodies to look forward to

...and finding jars in Britain isn't easy at all!

September 30, 2008 4:15 AM  
Blogger LostInCO opined...

Tasty grape jelly, how yummy!

September 30, 2008 9:11 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

You gonna eat all that jelly?..

September 30, 2008 9:50 AM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

I LOVED the connection with your mother and her mother and her mother and her mother, etc. that you described. :)

Just beautiful. :)

September 30, 2008 7:22 PM  

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