Saturday, June 08, 2013

Making Love

Recently, I received an amazing care package from someone very special to me. My idol, Stephanie Lee!We've never even met in person. It was filled with homemade jams, a piece of amazingly gorgeous jewelry, beautiful beads, and one of the kindest, softest notes I have ever received. This has become part of the unforgettable memories of my life. I know how busy life can get. And I know what it takes to send a package to someone...I do it often in my line of work...but one carefully filled with little glass mason jars in bubble wrap among other things? Well, that is above and beyond a care package...It made me feel seen and loved and heard...all of those things which we need as a human "being".
jams and preserves
            I lined the jars up and gingerly held them up to the sunlit window, slowly turning them like chunky kaleidoscopes. Each jar carefully labeled with the contents...beautiful amber and red colors...tiny chunks of fruit carefully cut and suspended in time. Friends, I know about canning. I know how labor intensive it is...
Nanny taught me about canning.
            During the hot summer months on Lake Santa Fe in northern Florida, I'd sit barefoot and tanned in a metal folding chair on the carport with my Nanny (Kathleen) Roberts shucking peas, de-veining  string beans, snapping them into smaller pieces...the scent of raw green in my nostrils and the gentle sound of the lapping lake in the distance. She called me Jenny in her gentle, southern voice and the sound soothed me with warmth each time.
Granddaddy and Nanny circa 1982
          Those summer days are some of the most cherished memories of my life. She and I and large bowls of snap peas and beans, chatting about canning and how long she had been doing it. The sound of metal lawn chairs scraping the carport cement as I scooted closer to her so I could see how it was properly done.
The large jars of butter beans were stored up on a shelf on the carport in long, neat rows. They could be seen when you drove up onto the carport, up to the kitchen door. I can still hear her voice calling to my father, Jerry, to go and get a jar of butter beans for supper. I can see his sun-browned hands reaching for one of the the large mason jars. Jars filled with those pale beans;  jars filled with conversations and sunshine. and the labors of a community garden in the deep southern sun.
            Holding those little jewel filled jars that were sent to me, my memory was flooded like a tide pool...holding the most precious living things I could ever own; my memories.
            Nanny is gone now. She was 85. Jerry left long before her in 1983. I was 14. She always said one should never have to outlive her children, but that he was with Jesus now.
            Holding the little jars from my box to the light, I remember love. I remembered family meals around a creaky old table. And I felt loved.... my mind flooded with memories of my father; of love, family and gentle conversation with one of the softest, kindest women I've ever known. All of this from a single box bearing my name.
            I bought muffins yesterday. Savoring the thought that this morning I would open one of the jars with that familiar POPing sound as the seal breaks, and spreading the fruity sweetness over crusty brown bread and  real butter...almost like the feeling of rolling vintage jewels around in the palm of my hand. I imagine the journey from garden to hands to bowl to plate. I hear voices and laughter spilling out into the morning air.
            I sigh with the thought of it all. Where love begins and never ends...long after the jars are empty, rinsed and ready for the next season. Jars turned upside down, long bereft of their contents, a symbol of hope for another season of love to be made.

Jewelry by Stephanie Lee

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