My house smells like tomato soup. It's quarter to eight, The Mister is in bed (3 am comes early) and despite being the third week in August, I have had the oven on for hours. Today, we are trying out hand at making tomato paste. Yesterday and the day prior, we canned tomatoes. A couple weeks ago, it was corn and beans. Next week it might be salsa.
Satisfaction isn't the right word for what I feel - contentment, maybe? Preparedness? Accomplishment? I'm not sure, some combination perhaps. When I open my pantry doors and see the rows and rows of jars of preserved bounty, I just get giddy. My dad thinks I'm crazy for wanting to grind my own flour. My sister reminds me that tomato paste is super cheap at Costco. But for me, the process of taking something grown and saving it for the cold winter months brings me inexplicable JOY.
As much joy as my pantry shelves bring me, however, it's really about the process of preserving that brings me joy. Handling each vegetable or fruit. Cooking, cutting, stirring, it's all cathartic. It's time. It's a slow process of watching something transform. How easily a tomato loses it's skin when blanched; how a food mill can churn out a beautiful tomato sauce without seeds or flesh; how corn that was once a seed in The Mister's hand is now full, thick, sweet kernels in our freezer.
The process always involves The Mister. He is as eager as I am to try new things. He loves a pot of soup in January made from our own summer vegetables. He will grind the mill, pick vegetables, operate the pressure canner - any help I need, he's right there beside me.
Every jar upon my shelf is full of love. There are more memories preserved in the bounty than food. Together, we store up love for those hard nights when it's running scarce. I only need to look in the cabinet to remember how much this man loves me, how much he loves the same life I do, and how much he is willing to share it with me.