Friday, August 19, 2005

Women's Work

One of the things I find remarkable about this rural place is the number of people who can. It's not just an old-lady, depression-era generation thing; everyone cans. Part of it, I'm sure, is the sheer bounty of fruit in this fruit-growing region. (And vegetables, in the form of tomatoes and zucchini!) People have given us bags of zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes, boxes of plums and apricots, sacks of walnuts. And that's in addition to our own garden, grapes, raspberries, and peach tree.

If you don't know how to preserve this stuff, you either have to feel really guilty as the apricots grow ever softer and the fruit flies multiply, or find someone who actually wants the 2nd or 3rd hand gift.

So, I've become fairly adept at dehydrating, canning, freezing, and juicing. For some reason, up until this summer, I've held back from this kind of hot, menial, traditional women's work. I've taken a small pleasure in saying, "No, I don't can" when asked by neighbors or fellow Relief Society sisters.

But last week, I ordered a steamer-juicer and yesterday I juiced 2 batches of grapes. I really like this steamer-juicer because it's much less mess and work than, say, canning peaches (which I did last week--spiced peaches, a la Holes). Today, I juiced the box of plums that someone gave me, and the lovely glowing jewel-tone of this home-bottled juice gives me more satisfaction than almost anything I can think of. Instead of despising this traditional women's work, I feel a deep connection with women of the past who worked in tandem with the earth's fertility to feed their own.

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