Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Short Story: Making Jam

"Who's this again Mama?"
I turned away from the pot I was stirring to find my oldest son holding a very faded black and white picture. I squinted at the image for a moment and said,"Oh, that's my Grandma Lorraine. You remember, Grandpa Charlie was telling you about her last Christmas." I went back to stirring. He studied the picture closely. After a half a minute of studying, he announced, "She looks nice. Was she nice Mama?" I smiled.
"Yes baby. She was nice. I used to go stay at her house in the summer."
"What kind of things did you do there?" he asked as he climbed up on the counter to watch me cook.
"Oh, I don t know...stuff. She had chickens, so I helped to feed the chickens and she had a garden. I used to pull weeds", I said making a sour face at the memory of pulling weeds.
"What else?"
"Well, we used to make jam sometimes."
His eyes got big and his whole face changed. "You can MAKE jam??"
I laughed out loud, "Of course you can make jam, son, where did you think it comes from?"
"The grocery store, duh", he replied while rolling his eyes.
"No, son. It didn't always come from the store." He was still staring at me. "She had strawberries in her garden. We made jam so that we could have strawberries all year long", I elaborated.
"I can't believe you've known how to make jam my whole life and you didn't tell me!"
I continued stirring my pot while he looked on in silence.
"Teach me how to make jam, Mama", he said after a moment.
I put down my spoon and looked at him for a moment. My son, who unfortunately until a moment ago didn't even know you could make jam, was asking me to teach him something.
"Ok", I said, "We'll get some berries this weekend and I'll show you how to make jam." He grinned an approval and took off into the living room with the picture. That Saturday we went to the farmer's market and bought strawberries, then the grocery store to buy sugar. I had to ask three times before I found the jars and pectin that I remember my grandma using. We washed and cleaned and sliced for hours, talking the whole time. I showed him how to cook the berries and how much sugar to add.
When I explained the thickening action of the pectin he blurted out, "Wow, mom, this is like a science experiment!" When we were done, I looked around my demolished kitchen. Then I looked at my sticky son, who had eaten more berries than he had sliced. Doing a mental tally I realized that we had made a years worth of jam while spending the day together, practicing Math and Science and that some how I had become cool to my 10 yr old son. 'Not a bad day's work', I thought to myself and sent up a silent 'Thank You' to Grandma Lorraine for making me help her with the jam.


K. Erickson said...

The Queen keeps pushing me to start selling my homemade salsa, and I keep telling her that no one's going to pay $20 for a jar of salsa no matter how good it is. I ain't selling it for less.

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