I’ve spent the better part of two days making marmalade—Earth Mage Marmalade. I don’t use a recipe; I just use whatever citrus I have available. My neighbors just brought me a huge tub full of grapefruit, so this batch ended up being grapefruit-orange-lime marmalade.
There is something inherently satisfying about preserving your own food, especially if you grew that food yourself, or you are given the food by friends who grew it themselves. When I am in the kitchen, making marmalade or pickles or canning peaches, I can forget all the technological gizmos and gadgets in my other room. I don’t hear them calling me, urging me to check Facebook, coaxing me to blog or write poetry. My camera is silent. So is the television. It’s just me, the fruit, the organic sugar, the kettles of boiling water. I pretty much can marmalade the same way my grandmother canned marmalade. We’ve been doing this for centuries.
Of course, my grandmother and my ancestors before her did it for survival. If they didn’t grow their own food and preserve it for use during the long winters when the earth lay fallow, resting from one season in preparation for the next, they would could go hungry. People used to be so much more self-sufficient than they are today. And while I enjoy the convenience of having a grocery store just down the hill where I can buy pretty much any food I desire, that food doesn’t taste the same as what I grow and preserve myself.
There is something spiritual about preserving your own food. As I stand at the sink, washing the fruit, I think about where it was grown, the tree that mothered it until maturity. I give a prayer of thanks for that tree. I thank the sun that warmed its leaves, the water than nourished its roots, allowing it to grow, to blossom, to produce fruit. A grapefruit is no less a miracle than a bear cub, a kitten, or an eaglet. If conditions were not just right, the fruit I now preserve would not exist.
My fantasy, my dream, is that some day Scott and I could have a little farm—just a few acres, where we can grow our own grapefruit and oranges, tomatoes and greens and squash. I want to grow pinto beans and black beans to dry for winter soups and stews. Peaches and plums. We’d have a few chickens for eggs (not for eating), and perhaps a dairy cow. I long to return to a simpler time. Technology is just too energy draining at times.
But only when I let it be. For now, I’m going to enjoy looking at the beautiful jars of amber Earth Mage Marmalade while I bake a loaf of crusty, Earth Mage bread to go with it.
Just like my grandmother and my ancestors before her did.