I realize that this is about the millionth blog post about canning. People my age and younger rediscovering home economy, tight times and retro sensibility hitting it off big-time. DIY swollen beyond the banks of punkdom, or maybe just punks getting old. Whereas my mom's generation drifted away from home-spunnery and the scent of backwardness and poverty that hangs with it, a few of us drifted right back.
Luckily for me, mom didn't refuse to do do some things, and would turn around and express her pride in being able to. (Welcome to the conflicted mind of a child of Appalachia, reaching for an easier way, but loyal to a culture better than them flatland city folks got.) In any case, she taught me to can and garden and other stuff. Her mom did those things, all my grandparents and greats and ancestors did it themselves, because they had to. My kin were Virginian for centuries, but we were what're called there "middling folk," who done did it themselves.
Canning and pickling, even freezing, are things I recall both grandmas doing. So this summer, when my kids' grandma visited (you may remember her from such paragraphs as, the ones you just read), I bought 40 pounds (sadly, splitwood bushel baskets have been replaced by boxes) of tomatoes and some extra jars, and on the appointed day we set about canning.
The kids weren't getting a lesson, and mostly kept away, which is good when there's a guy exploding jars in boiling liquid. Because yeah, I was learning, about how tightening the lid too much before processing causes catastrophic jar failure. Meanwhile, the kids were being kids, in a house that smells like tomato sunshine and sounds like stories punctuated by the slisking of rings securing lids whose ploinking will signal completion. Months from now, the un-slisking of the jar, the release of the smell, will transport them to a happy summer day. Every time they open those memories, every time yet to happen when they walk in the garden or hear jars rattling in the canning kettle, culture seeps into their cells.
I think mom enjoyed it. I did, and I learned. I have a bunch of canned tomatoes and sauce from that day and from the good year in my own garden that will feed bodies and spirits. All of us got to enjoy being part of that stream of descendants and see culture flow along with it.
That's about all I wanted to say. Maybe the title made you think I was gonna taunt the chic, but nah. A few of you wonder if it's a typo, or maybe a purposeful use of homophony to call my mom a "can chick," and the answer is yes. And yes, the vagueness--yes typo or yes homophone?--is also intentional. Yes, I am veering off course now, and should sign off.