Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reflecting on Rhythms

A friend of mine has recently become interested in food storage and home-food preservation. We had a conversation on the day after I had finished processing (and freezing/canning) our halloween pumpkins, and she noted that pumpkins were on a great sale at the local grocery store so maybe she'd pick up a couple to preserve. The next day she joyfully reported that she had indeed bought the pumpkins, but that she wasn't going to be able to get to them for a couple of days, so she was putting them in her garage where they would keep longer.
Two weeks later she told me that she'd noticed a soft spot on one of them, and figured she'd better get to them right away before they rotted. (Oops!)

I think that anyone who has ever done their own food preservation has been through the experience of having something rot or spoil before you got it processed. I had several pints of raspberries grow mold literally overnight this summer. I had to cut a soft spot out of one of my pumpkins. I had to throw away several whole peaches. Food does not wait to be processed, any more than it waits to be picked. And yet we often set it aside, and, in doing so, we lose it.

Why is this? My friend commented that she really wanted to get to the pumpkin, but that she knew the processing was going to take up several hours, and she just couldn't find the time for it.

I processed our first two pumpkins on the monday after halloween. The last one had not been carved, so I knew it would keep a bit longer, and they were big pumpkins, so it took me several hours to process the two. So I saved the third. I had planned to get to it on the weekend. On friday morning I got up with the intent to clean my house and make three pies (for our pie night that night). But that pumpkin had started to grow fuzzies along the stem...I knew it could not wait. So my day's plans suddenly adapted to include processing a huge pumpkin and canning it as well. They adapted because they had to. I didn't touch the computer all day, I didn't answer the phone, I did change diapers and make meals and wear the baby on my back for a while, but otherwise I simply did what needed to be done, even on a day when I "didn't have the time." And 6 quarts of beautiful home-canned pumpkin puree are on my shelf now because of it.

I do not mean to belittle my friend in any way. She is new to this for one thing, so the whole project will be slower for her than it is for me who has been doing it for years. She has good intentions, and is just still learning how to make these particular kinds of intentions fir into a routine that she's had in place for years. Old habits die hard (and I am eternally grateful to my mother for teaching me the habit of food preservation so that I didn't have to learn it on my own!)
There are dozens of things filling the average day. Errands to run, meals to make, kids to care for, phones to answer, projects to plan, internet to suck up my time...I find it's quite easy to keep very busy all the time and yet get very little done. And, in all the whirlwind of things to do, something ends up sliding...


Just as food will not wait to be processed, so children cannot wait to be shown love and respect, and the joyful moments of life will not wait until you have time to sit down and notice them, they have to be caught (and enjoyed) on the fly.

There are so many things we COULD be doing, so it is vital to tune into the rhythms and sense of what we SHOULD be doing at a given time. In motherhood, some days are so long, and yet the years are short. We will be happiest, I believe, when learn to live in the present, and to be flexible as we follow the ebb and flow of life, take each day as it comes, and just roll with it. If there is much to do, get it done. If there is little to do, enjoy the rest. Do not seek to fill your life with things--even good things--if it is at the expense of the better things.


NessaAnn said...

I totally agree, Jenni. One of my big struggles this year was realizing that occasionally, my food preserving couldn't come first -- that there were other priorities that come before salsa! I really love canning and such, and I am still a beginner, but not if my son has no clean underwear, or my kids are crying from lack of attention, or I have important church meetings for my calling, or I choose to attend a family activity rather than stay home and preserve food. Also, my farmer's market is only open Saturday, and it is so frustrating to watch peaches go bad on the Sabbath! It's a really challenging balance for me, but I'm learning to do better and use my time wisely, as you've said. :)

NessaAnn said...

Your post inspired me to go roast a big ol' batch of garden tomatoes that have been sitting on my kitchen counter far too long. Thanks, Jenni!

Khourt said...

Such an inspiring post for sure :) Lately Ive been making sure that I cut down on my computer time and my "free" time in order to do things that Ive been putting off doing. Its made me feel loads better!

Katrina said...


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