the song: "A Thousand Seasons Past" The Rentals
When August began, I set the goal to write about seasonal recipes. I talked about eggplant and zucchini and tomatoes. I told you about the heat wearing me (and my garden) down. When I started my August posts about seasonal eating, I knew exactly how to wrap up this month. I want to give credit to the hippest, most sustainable, green, domestic diva I know.
At the beginning of August, I went to visit my grandparents in Woodson, Texas (population 296). My grandparents are such interesting people and I feel incredibly blessed to have them both in my adult life. Both deserve essays to be written about them, if not books. There's only so much you can cover in one sitting, though, so this post is about my grandmother.
My Maw Maw is the beautiful woman pictured above. You might notice she is a bit blurry in the photo. That's because she never stops moving. This summer, while caring for my ailing grandfather, my Maw Maw's peach tree started overflowing. She told us a story about reaching up to move a dead limb and a whole branch of the tree falling off because it was so overloaded with peaches. As her peaches began to ripen, she set out to preserve them. All of them.
I have to point out- those are peanut butter jars that she's been cleaning and collecting for this exact purpose. She has been recycling since before it was a household word. She washes plastic cups...and straws. She reuses bread bags. She washes styrofoam meat trays to send home plates of cookies and brownies.
She's been doing this forever--making jellies, pickling, and preserving. She is so associated with this trait that other people from the community bring my 87 year old grandmother their garden items to preserve. She had two huge cucumbers sitting on her counter that she was going to turn into pickles later in the week. As I was taking the peach picture, she also asked me to photograph her plum juice. She was so excited about this, because she got the wild plums from a neighbor right as she was running out of juice to make cobblers. Now she's stocked up again.
Again, take note of the recycled juice bottles.
It takes so much energy and devotion to food to do all the things my grandmother does. I am almost 60 years younger than her, and it made me tired to think of all the work she put into preserving. Tired and awestruck.
I also couldn't help but notice her okra, waiting for the next Sunday family meal.
You see what's behind it, don't you? More peaches! She proudly told me she has peaches to last for 2 years.
The domestic arts are so popular these days. People (myself included) start to think they are novel for making jelly or keeping chickens (2 things I have yet to do, by the way!). We are right to be proud. In today's world we are encouraged to buy our lettuce in bags and our meat in patties to remove any indication it was once alive. Any effort we make to take our food back into our own hands is impressive. The more people that garden and cook and keep chickens and homebrew and sew and bake, the happier our community and earth will be.
When I see my grandmother though, I have to remember the generations of women that we hipster homemakers have to thank. People have forgotten the work it takes to live in a responsible way. Sure, my grandmother could have easily let the peaches go this year. No one would have blamed her. But she couldn't because that's not how she was raised. She lives sustainably because it's part of her essence, not because it's fashionable or something Michael Pollan told her to do. To her, a tree full of ripe peaches isn't a choice, it's life itself.
I was sent home with a big bucket of peaches. My next post will be about how I used those peaches. But I first had to recognize this incredible lady that has shaped my life in more ways that she'll ever know. Thank you for feeding us all.