The harvesting season is my busiest season of the entire year. Having certain daily constants means I can depend on a few things being ever present on my to-do list. Cheese-making, for one thing. Garden harvests and canning days, flower bouquets and tomatoes...lots of tomatoes.
It's to these constants that my mind has found itself wandering.
The constants of this season of the year consume me and my days. I remember last year I was incredibly overwhelmed and even (dare I say?) depressed as I canned up the abundance from the garden and worked to make cheese, butter, yogurt in order to make use of the milk from our cow before it would spoil. I was exhausted and stressed. I felt like I was drowning- not even able to tread water. This lifestyle and my abilities didn't seem to match up. Then pregnant, knowing a needy little Tiddle would be added to the mix by next harvest season had me even more worried.
Looking back at the list I put up last year, I was amazed to find that where I canned 28 quarts of tomatoes last year- this year so far (yes, there is still more) I have canned over 160 quarts of tomatoes!
I spend an entire day canning tablefuls of tomatoes and then, when it is finally empty it is time to send the children out to harvest more and fill it up again. And yet, I have felt much less overwhelmed, much less stressed and not at all depressed. That is an insane amount of canned tomatoes and yet, as each batch comes out of the canner I find the thanksgiving comes instead of the suffocation. I feel a bit like Joseph, storing away the abundance and can't help but feel like there may be a time in our life when I will be even more grateful for those tomatoes. Perhaps the Lord is filling our barns without us even knowing the need.
I am not sure exactly why I am better able to cope with the increased load than I was last year (pregnancy hormones, maybe? Practice? Sheer Endurance? God's mercy? All of the above?) but I am especially grateful that it happened.
Of course, in the case of fallish-chores, knowing that a break will come on the cold winds and first frosts of fall certainly helps. It won't be long until there are no more ANYTHINGS to bring in from the garden- and so we eat and bottle up in gratitude.
Two niceties this year? The harvests find themselves plopped on the porch instead of in every cranny of the kitchen. A productive and busy kitchen is much, much less so when you first have to move crates of produce in order to find space enough to do anything. And though the to-do remains in the frontlets of my eyes, I can surely do without them on my counters.
I've also been working in the shade of the porch on the canning instead of the hot summer sun of my makeshift summer kitchen, which is all the more pleasant.
And since getting electricity on the porch, I am able to simultaneously cut bad spots out of tomatoes and listen to The Eight Essential Tools of Classical Pedagogy or Teaching Boys And Other Kids Who Would Rather Be Building Forts or the other CiRCE lectures online while trying to wrap my head around another impending year of home education. These are the things that are working for me.
What is not working for me is the fact that I have run out of both canning jars AND space to put the (filled) canning jars! The canning was at a stand still for a bit until I got the brilliant idea (a friends suggested it, actually) to paint a sign and hang it out front, hoping anyone driving by might have a bunch of old jars in their basement they want to get rid of but haven't yet bothered to. I wasn't holding too much hope, but with the price of new canning jars these days, I admit, I was hoping.
Within the week, two kind souls cleared out some cupboards and dropped off jars for me and a third canning jar angel delivered two brand-spankin' new cases of quart jars anonymously! I couldn't believe it! I wish there was a way to tell that wonderful person just how much of a blessing that was to me. I hope they know.
And so canning has begun again in earnest after a very short reprieve. I haven't figured out what to do with the jars after they are filled, but the filling can continue!
It's a good thing too- the beets are more than ready to be harvested.
PS. Did you know you can make a pie out of four ingredients? I was so impressed with this pie, I just had to tell you about it. One particular weekend I was in charge of bringing sundry victuals to several places- 5 gallons of ice cream to a reunion, bread for communion and a meal for a church picnic, a meal to a neighbor, lunch for friends who were coming over and two pies for a firestation festivity. I was feeling a bit pressed in on all sides and had no idea what sort of pies to make. Nothing expensive (pie ingredients can be), preferably made with things I already had on hand and I was not using our limited but precious fruit supply I had just frozen when I discovered this recipe online. From the depression, it uses only sugar, flour, cream and a pie shell. All of which I had on hand and were not expensive at all- including boxes of frozen pie shells that I had bought after Easter at Aldi for .25 each for just such a need. (I added vanilla and cinnamon to mine as well.)
It was impressively delicious topped with billowing homemade vanilla whipped cream.