It may seem like this way of life is gone, but thankfully there are those that are keeping this life sustaining skill alive.
A couple weeks ago I heard that our neighbor and friend down our road was canning pickles. We decided to take her picture and share it.
Pat Halsey Kirk not only has a warm smile and a little chuckle ready to share, but she is also keeping alive the art of preserving food.
As I walked in her neat kept little home, I was greeted by the wonderful smell of dill pickles. It took me back to days long ago and my Grandma Butcher making them. They were my favorite. Pat is no beginner at canning. She said she learned how to can from her Grandma Halsey when she was a child. She talked about remembering many a summer morning sitting on her well top and snapping green beans, or cutting beet tops off.
She still has some of her Grandma's recipes, and some she uses she got from an old recipe book from years and years back.
Pat has won several awards for her canning. The pickled beets she entered way back in the 1980s, at the Callaway County Fair, won her a blue ribbon. She said she had gotten her pickle beet recipe from an elderly lady in Portland years back.
Just the other day as I stood ironing in our utility room, daydreaming and looking around, I looked over at my shelves all neatly filled with store bought can goods. Although I felt some satisfaction there, in feeling prepared, there was something missing.
I began thinking about how it was when David and I was on the farm, and our three sons were growing up. I guess it was a lot of work, but I look back on it now as fun times. Times were different then. My days were filled with children, canning, and cooking.
Thanks to my husbands insistence that our home and family was the only job I needed, I got to reap the rewards of being there, with our boys, everyday.
We had huge gardens. Did you catch that? I said gardens. Besides having a big garden by our house, we had a field planted in our creek bottom land. We wanted enough for canning, and also for sharing.
When I think about this, I am reminded about a joke I heard once. It's about offering someone something and they asked, "Well, is it picked?" This really happens. We gave away corn, beans, and tomatoes by the bushel. David has taken a pickup load of watermelon and given them away.
But the most treasured memories are the time my husband, me, and our three sons worked together to plant, tend, and watch our crops go from seed, to harvest and canning. There were evenings when we all set around and snapped beans. Sharing labor and love brings lasting satisfaction.
We only had one little basement room where David and the boys had made me some shelf's for our canned goods. They would get filled up with yellow corn, green beans, tomatoes, etc. Perhaps 300 of each. The colorful shelves looked so pretty I hated opening them up.
Back before I had a pressure cooker things were cold packed. It took a lot longer to cook that way.
I canned beef to use in making soup or stew. And if David and the boys brought in a lot of Carp fish, David would get several using his bow and arrow, I would can some. The bones become soft during canning. David and the boys were all good hunters and kept us well supplied with meat.
One night when David was working the night shift, the boys went coon hunting and brought home several coons and a possum. They decided they would just leave them in the basement, and take another little hunt before going to bed.
Around midnight I heard a noise coming from our basement. Sounded like I heard glass breaking. As our little grandson would say, "It scared the daylights out of me." The door coming to the upstairs was locked so I didn't check it out, I just waited for David to get home.
When David got home we checked it out. We found out their Possum had only been 'playing Possum.' (They are known for that). He had crawled behind the jars of fruit and several had fallen off and broken. We opened the basement door and let him leave.
Our friend Pat Kirk's only talent isn't just canning though, she is an artist as well. Although, I don't believe she has done any of that lately, but I believe I heard she has received recognition for her drawings in the past.
So I know of three lady friends in our neighborhood who still enjoy canning. Pat, and her sister Barbara Halsey White and Connie Taylor. All pretty special ladies.
Can't leave without this little funny. I find Pat and I have a lot in common. Tee-hee.
This just happened recently when Pat, her daughter, Shelly Nichols, and her sister Barbara, took a day trip to Hannibal.
Pat was wearing a pretty flowered dress. The ladies went to the 'powder room' and when they were leaving, and walking away, they noticed someone had stopped Pat. She was back behind them, so they asked her if someone was complimenting her on her pretty dress. She said, "No, she was telling me my dress was stuck in my panties." Of course her sister and daughter was rolling in laughter. Not as much that it happened, but how calmly Pat took it.
I remember when that happened to me many years ago at a big festive occasion our church had. I was wearing a long flowing blue dress, corsage and all, when I went to the little girls room. When I came out unsuspecting, walking through the large crowd, Debbie Haymart Blythe saved me. She stopped me and pulled my dress down!
So when Pats sister told me I said, "Not so funny." (Which of course it was). Then she was really laughing and pointing at me, because I had already told her about it happening to me too.
Thanks Pat for sharing your canning stories and bringing back memories for a lot of us.