Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being the grasshopper and the ant

by June

Summer is short in Maine. And it's glorious.

I feel an urgency all season to keep it somehow, which is why preserving the harvest appeals to me so much. It's not just food. It's memories.

Don't get me wrong: I adore snowy nights by the fire. But I love them all the more if we have a nice tomato jam to spread on toast with a melting goat cheese. We taste the jam and remember when the tomatoes were ripe—back when we were swimming and sleeping under the shooting stars and reading in the grass.

It's a tug between the two impulses all summer, of course. To play and sing like Aesop's grasshopper? Or, like the ants, to put away some of the summer bounty for when the snow flies? I wish that I were able to transform the whole season into one long stretch of gardening and swimming and harvesting and hiking and preserving and walking on the beach. But I can't. That's not the life I have. And when I have time to spare, I'm going to choose to play with my daughters. Their childhoods are more fleeting than summer. (Did I mention they turned eleven this summer? Eleven!)

But what I can manage—with Blossom's and Fern's help—is to play a little and preserve a little bit each day. We've learned to measure out our energy, to keep it simple. We don't have the garden or the humanpower  to put away a harvest that will see us through the seasons ahead. No pressure cookers and huge vats of boiling water for us. Our scale is small. But we are able to freeze and pickle and dry and jar enough treats to bring the sparkle of summer to almost every winter meal: blackberries for cobbler and strawberry jam for toast and half-sour pickles for bagel brunch and cherries for pie and chutneys to spike up the heat on an Indian feast.

We're not letting go of summer yet. But we are pickling it while we can.


The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Beautiful post. Eleven! What a fun age. Enjoy every minute! Oh we made your fresh corn pudding, I blogged it. It was wonderful!

Kris said...

Lovely post, June. The pics are full of sun and fun and future food treats. Thanks for the peek at Maine at it's peak. :-D

June said...

Lisa! So happy you loved the corn pudding enough to blog about it. Yum, how we love it. And how we love you! Thanks for sharing our corner of the blogoverse.

Sense of Home Kitchen said...

Beautiful post, love the photos. I have never made, nor eaten, tomato jam I will have to try making some, sounds delicious.

Yes, enjoy all the time you can with your children, mine are grown and my that time does go fast. I am a children's librarian though, so I still spend time reading to children, just not mine own. Grandchildren someday! (love your books by the way, very popular here, we have them all!)


Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

Thoughts, captured so well. Thanks.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

A lovely post! Some days I'm definitely more grasshopper than ant, but I do occasionally embrace my inner ant. We've been trying to capture and preserve a little summer too, it just goes by too fast. I can't believe the peaches are done, and it's time to think about fall planting already. Seems like just yesterday we were impatiently waiting for the first day of spring, and winter will be here before we know it.

tom | tall clover said...

June, should you run out of preserves, revisit this post for a dollop of sunshine. I know I will.

And by the way...I have lake envy! Puget Sound is just too cold for daily swims.

Shari said...

AMAZING photos!!!! Thank you for sharing!

Sustainable Eats said...

What a beautiful post! I've always loved mid Aug to Sept because it reminds me to cherish everything - the playing and sun and harvest because winter is coming soon. I totally get this. My favorite picture is the four feet upside down sticking out of water! You are blessed with those little girls. Thanks so much for linking up to Simple Lives Thursday!
xo, Sustainable Eats

Linda said...

Lovely jewel-like preserves.

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

You have one of the most beautiful blogs that I have ever read! You have such a similar life philosophy that I try to live by. If you care to, next Friday I am having my very first blog hop related to all ways of living a fresh, clean, and pure life . . . any post, not just food. Your blog fits perfectly in this theme/philosophy. I can't wait to continue to read your posts and live vicariously through your photos! Roz @ La Bella Vita

mandy said...

i had similar grasshopper/ant thoughts last night as we wearily put up the last of the peaches.

and today, although tired, am going to enjoy the time outdoors.

a lovely post here.

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Do you realize what a wonderful life you are giving to those beautiful young girls?! You are an amazing parent and I admire you so much..not to mention I am GREEN with envy about the beautiful location of your home ;-D

Tracey said...

What beautiful pics and sentiments. Especially regarding savoring the time with your children. It goes by too fast.
Please post recipe for tomato jam!!

6512 and growing said...

I feel the same tug between antness and grasshopperhood. I like your reverence for both.

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