When I was a child summer vacation time was “up north” visiting my aunts. These ladies of German heritage were consummate canners. They canned ,what seemed to me as a child, endless orderly rows of canned beauty. On shelves in their basements the treasure was stored. And when we visited they would take me, the city girl, by the hand with an amused look on their faces and lead me down the stairs into that magical land of jams and fruits and meats and pickles. “Pick out anything you want to eat today” were the magical words I waited to hear. And I loved it. Maybe cherries? What could my aunt do with a jar of that chicken and how did she get it in the jar anyway? A crunchy jar of pickles? Oh I had such fun. I’m sure they had no idea that their small act of kindness to a child would plant the seeds of a lifelong pleasure for me. I wish I would have taken a camera to those basements and documented those rows of jars that reflected their skill and ability to feed their families. They thought they were showing me the ordinary. But those memories I have are extraordinary.
Today I will put my modest number of jars on my basement shelves. And this winter I will visit those same shelves and pick out what I want to eat that day. I am able to create my own small scale land of canning jar magic. And I imagine my aunts are smiling.