Sunday, September 12, 2010

Canning partner

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. 
– Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NIV)

When we planted our garden in the spring, we had no idea of the harvest we’d get. Last year we lost all our tomato plants—four dozen—to blight. We managed to harvest some potatoes, even though the blight killed the plants before the tubers were done growing. The peppers, on the other hand, did great. They were plentiful and enormous.

This year was the other way around. The peppers were scarce and small, and the tomatoes—well, let’s just say the Lord has restored what the locust (last year’s blight) had eaten. To date, we’ve canned 20 pints of green beans, 27 quarts and 10 pints of pickled beets, three pints of relish, 21 quarts of pears, 31 quarts of tomatoes, and 32 pints of tomato juice. To that add green beans, peas, and corn we’ve put in the freezer. More tomatoes are ripening, but after we can 11 pints of whole tomatoes for chicken soup, we're done.

Notice I wrote “we.” Not “I.” Up until this year, I’ve done all the canning. But when the regular English teacher at the Christian school resigned two weeks before school started, I was asked to fill in until a permanent teacher could be found. How could I say no? The school is near and dear to me. I was involved in getting it established in 1997, served on the board of directors for four years, then taught English for five years. Two of my grandchildren now attend.

So the first day of school found me in a classroom instead of in my writing room writing or in the kitchen canning.

But I’ve got the most wonderful husband in the world. He’s always supported me in anything I’ve ever done. He hasn’t just helped me to can. He’s learned how to do it himself.

Last Saturday while I went to town for groceries (stores, I learned, are great places to shop at 6:30 a.m.), he dug up, cleaned, and prepared beets for cooking. Then, under my instruction, he skinned, quartered, and packed them in jars that he’d washed while I paid the bills and balanced the household budget. I then prepared the pickling solution, which I added to the seven quarts and 10 pints he had ready, and put on the lids and bands.

We had two canners going at the same time: the water bath canner outside on the burner on the grill and the pressure canner on the range in the kitchen. Then we canned 13 quarts of tomatoes. He was going to leave that job to me—I always take a whiff of the tomato when I cut it to check for rot, and he wasn’t sure about that part of the process. But he ended up doing the tomatoes, too. All I did was add the sugar and salt, and put on the lids and bands. On Monday we did pears.

OK, I admit, I was a little territorial at first. I mean, the kitchen has always been my domain. But I had too much on my plate not to accept his help. Turns out he became more than a helper—he became my canning partner.

And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

Dear God, thank you for the life partner You’ve given me. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Genesis 2:18-24


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