From one golden berry patch to another and back home to make jam

14 Aug
From one golden berry patch to another and back home to make jam

Daughter’s doctor appointment cancelled–no brown recluse bite after all, just suffering from a lack of window screens as we rid the house of floor finish vapors. She says she has been bitten by fleas from the blue-eyed puppy that wasn’t supposed to be in bed with humans. Pup is carried in at night so as not to scratch the floor finish, not yet, anyway. Such a beautiful floor–golden, and browns, striped, variegated, long and and dashed lines of grain, a visual wonder; no need for furniture any more, maybe just some large pillows on the floor. I congratulate myself because someone forgot to do that (quite enough) when I was growing up, so I say to myself: You did it! Look what you can do! And all by yourself, too! Way up in the corner by the ceiling a long-limbed, caraway seed-bodied house spiders weaves a fine new net. I let her be, since she is as good as a screen, and tremendously more artistic.

Today I teased a silk spider nest out of a door groove, but into an appropriate alternative hatching location. Baby spiders to watch soon, pouring like sand out of their home, landing on clothes and skin, then disappearing so small. Weeks later reappearing visible in large, if not so extraordinary numbers. The orb weavers, displaying perfect spider body, each with its own pattern of exoskeleton adornment. They pull silk and carefully bind their polygonal nets, laying them across the evergreens, rose bushes, and paths we walk, too late and hoping she walked quickly away from the epicenter when she realized the level of perturbation, and isn’t swinging down to cling on the sleeve or hair. Mornings are misty and reveal web designs, which fade in afternoons warm and golden, the golds of August. Even some of the maple leaves have rusted away to gold, tired early and rustle paper down in the still air, while the rest wait patiently green for rain and perhaps frost before expiring.

Light pours in the windows, first east, then west. Lighting the colors of the oak boards softly gleaming. The other half of the house is a maze of relocated bookshelves, bed parts, musical furniture and bins of unsorted treasures. A cautionary red cloth hangs from the leg of a new bunk bed, bought online and partially blocking my bathroom door. Perhaps it was not a wise purchase, but we will try to create space on the floor, if not at eye level. The bookcase between the toilet and the sink is not a good fit (and contains the wrong books for this location). Still, I don’t really mind the desk in the bedroom, despite the frequency of new bruises inflicted on my hip as I pass it in the night.

An electric fan is drying blueberries in the garage that has never been a garage, only laundry, storage, and a cramped shop counter. For the last few weeks, half kitchen and dining room (the other half outside under a tarp canopy). Perhaps soon a bedroom for little brother so big brother can have his own space for at least a while before he flies off somewhere (will he feel close to us, and call?). I enter into his possibilities, which I once had–off to study, travel, work, find himself in individuality, personal community, the larger world. All very fine, and I am happy for him. He was supposed to pick blueberries today with me and the siblings, but fell asleep on the way and slept in the car the whole time we picked, plunked, put, poured and portered. Small berries without extra growth substances, each flavorful, a little dried already from weeks of just enough but no wasted water. Should be perfect for drying, to be put in granola, energy bars, and freezing for muffins, not turning them soggy like the megaberries. And eaten readily as long as I refrain from using a high proportion of whole grain, however freshly ground. It will be a fine thing to restore the oven to its place, and the first thing I shall make will be bread. Having made bread always feels right. Along with growing food, saving seeds, and sewing, what I am meant to do, and a way of feeling the cords that bind me into that great web of the creation, the nature of things.

Evening has shadows remembering the gold of late afternoon, ground still warm but air fresh. Beans are climbing, beets swollen, wild weeds race to drop, shoot, send to the updrafts their seeds. And I pull them and restrict somewhat the races which may reproduce in my realm. I call my little boy and daughters in turn to sit with me on low camp chairs and roll seeds from brown cilantro switches and paper pea pods. I insist, telling them they need to understand how this works, and enjoy working together in this mundane essential life.

Tomorrow will be a raspberry day, and I will see who will come with me. Even my young smart phone users must be made to feel the pull of real, essential things together with me. Raspberries in the morning, a picnic, and back at home I’ll wash the spiderskin cast-offs from my dusty jars and fire up the camp stove. Raspberry jam aroma will rise and enter other senses. Raspberry is the very best kind of jam, and I will not buy it imported from France. If I do well I will also freeze many quarts of raspberries for smoothies. Next, with my son to pick wild blackberries with our ladder, clippers, and long sleeves.Then it will be cobbler and ice cream (with an appropriate proportion of whole grains in the biscuit topping). Amen.


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