Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pears, Poetry, or Prose?

September has its bittersweet choices: generally, I wake up during this month and realize that somehow I've whistled the summer away with the cricket and decide to become the ant again--writing, revising, or marketing my written stuff. Invaribly, though, I start wondering about the old pear tree in Anniston. Every year we think it will die. Every year its few remaining limbs cluster up with pears the way muscadines cluster. And then...well, some days words have to take a back seat to the fruits of the season.

When I come to this web site, I know that I truly am living on a different planet. Not a soul has responded to the Hudson Strode call and it's about time to turn that piece in to John Sledge at the Mobile Press-Register. Good thing I have my own resources. And yet that meter shows that a whole slew of people  have visited. That meter counts about the way I do.

No matter. I start off with some 2000 words in an essay which I know should only be 800 words long. Newspaper space is limited. So I trim, and whittle, and whack, and cut, and paste, and squeeze those words. I'm now down to 997, not counting the title. I've saved some of the "out takes." They're probably better just numbered on a page than the essay, cut, bleeding, and bandaided.

Numbers can take me right back to pears in an instant. Take a look at at the gold in my kitchen. After this batch Monday, on Tuesday I peeled, chopped, cooked, and canned six more pints with three half-pints of mostly syrup left over. My oldest sis who taught me this dying art, and who can not longer can anything, assured me that sometimes pears are just juicier than others. I'd already learned from her that if you make pear preserves every day until you die, you won't have one batch turn out the same. Old philosophy comes easier to her than what she did this morning.

It is a shame to know so much and not be able to say it. Honestly, isn't that why we blog? Who's going to sit and listen to our little personal daily drivel? Before last year I had at least three good friends who would. Today would be the birthday of Katonah Summertree; today is the death date of Carolyn Watson. Johnny Bowyer was a third; they all died within a three-month period in 2010. Both my parents died in separate Septembers. No wonder I feel the need to preserve precious things during this month.

Tuesday's gold.

4 comments:

Nanna said...

sweet post Kat, a friend of mine has pears & has said come & get um ~lol~ so I'll be trying my hand at canning them, I'd love Ann's old recipe
Helen

Kathleen Thompson said...

Oh, dear Helen, I was just telling your cousin, James, about the elusive quality of her "recipe." Here's what I know: Wash the pears and let them dry beforehand so that they won't have too much juice. Peel the pears. Chip off in little pieces. Fill Mama's dishpan up with pears. Cover the top of them with sugar and let set overnight until the sugar dissolves. (How much sugar? "Oh, just cover them good.") Bring to a boil and stir pretty often. Let the pears boil until done. ("HOw long?" I asked.) Until the big bubbles get little.
So there, my dear, you have the sum total of my knowledge of how Ann does it.
Do you have a dishpan?? LOL
BTW, James and I canned 7 quarts of pears in a light syrup that were so large we had to quarter some of them to get them into wide-mouthed jars; 8 pints of pear preserves; and 4 quarts of pear mincemeat! He brought two buckets of gorgeous pears yesterday and we started about three. We finished today at eleven. A record!!I'm going to try and post some pics. Call me when you get ready to cook, and I'll give you what I've learned through the school of hard knocks and runny preserves.

Picket said...

Morning Kat....the canned 'treasures' look fantastic! takes me back to when I was a girl and watching mama can down at Nick's old place on Eutaw Hwy...we had a garden ever year and every year Lonnie would pull up with a truck load of his Silver Queen corn...we would shuck and cut corn on mama's old corn cutter (which now hangs in my kitchen)for nearly 3 days and we always had over 200 qts of the thickest best tasting cream corn in the freezer....hundreds of jars of canned tomatoes and green beans..I always was the one to pick and shell and snap so I never learned the art of canning....many a time I sat on the old porch with Mama Bush and shelled peas or snapped green beans and listen to her talk and tell stories...funny how I always thought we were 'rich' to have such a bounty of good food on the table and always gathering at Maw Smith's or Mama Bush's with family and good food...but now that I am older I realize we weren't rich in material things but rich in the blessed things of love and family...Sept always brings such a bounty of emotion for me also..holidays almost here and so many memories of holidays gone by...my own as a little girl and then my own babies when they were still small...hearing their little footsteps and whispers of excitement as they would sneak down the hallway early on Christmas morning peeking to see what Santa had left them....realizing how fast time has gone by and big my own family has grown..knowing each year how blessed we are to still have all of us to love and hug and talk to and realizing the dark fear that one day there will be an empty chair at the table...To borrow a quote from daddy..I said all that to say all this...seeing your beautiful pears took me back in time to Mama Bush's kitchen..her own beautiful pear perserves which daddy so loved...I can see every detail of the room...the stove in the corner where she would make miracles happen from seemingly nothing...the 2 kitchen windows and the sink in the corner and her green Palmolive dishwashing liquid...to this day that is all I use to wash dishes...her little jsr where she kept her 'sugar free lemon cookies'...I miss my grandmothers...the way they always made me feel like I was their favorite grandchild..the way they always made me feel loved and safe and welcomed...September has a way of connecting me back to my wonderful childhood and yet reminding me that I am in the 'Fall' of my own life and Winter will soon follow...time waits on no man...I just pray that when my winter comes my family will have some of the same loving memories and that they will know how much I love them and that they were my greatest treasures...love you Kat....much love and blessings to you & yours...Dot

Kathleen Thompson said...

How dear to hear from my sweet nieces! Thanks to both for all the memories! I wish I had some of Lonnie's Silver Queen corn to cook today! xoxo