The water started receding today, and after feeling helpless despair all day yesterday, I (and the boys) needed to return to some semblence of normalcy today. So we went apple picking at Bowman's Orchard because the first apples of the season are ready. I picked 16 lbs of Gingergold apples (and seriously, nothing tastes better than apples straight off the tree :-)), went by Walmart to pick up sugar and spices, came home, put John down for his nap, and started to can Apple Maple Jam.
Sam pulled himself up on the countertop and chatted with me while I peeled 12 lbs of apples. When it came time to core and slice the apples, I taught him the apple stem game from my elementary school days--twisting it until it broke to reveal the first letter of your future husband/wife's name. He had a lot of fun with that, and it gave us a chance to work on alphabet sounds. Oddly enough, we got an abundance of Fs. Then while I cooked the apples, Sam went outside to play with Ruby.
I watched them from the doorway of the kitchen and congratulated myself on my good maternal instincts. Ruby *is* exactly what Sam needed. They were laying in the grass together, and Sam was working with Ruby on her tricks. They both looked happy, calm, content--which is no small feat for boys or terriers--and the love they had for each other was palpable.
They were out there for almost two hours, and when Sam finally came back inside, I had the second batch of jam in the canner. Lately Sam hasn't been too keen on trying new foods, but he asked to try the jam, pronounced it his favorite, and the best jam ever, and ate every last spoonful in the stock pot.
I'm feeling very accomplished all of a sudden, which is new. Most of the time, I don't feel accomplished at all.
I like to have something I can hold in my hands to measure my progress, and canning gives me that. Now that I've been canning on a bi-weekly basis lately, I've got the rhythm down enough that I can get something put up in a couple of hours. It's something I didn't think I was capable of because when I first started this, it seemed so complicated. But it's not complicated at all, and my food storage pantry is looking delicious with its bounty of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and apple maple jams, as well as several quarts of beef stew. I've got big plans for the next few months--an apple recipe using hot cinnamon hearts and a split pea soup I'm dying to try.
I'll let you know how it goes.