Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Keeping on keeping on

I had to smile when I read about all the salsa-making and pickling going on over at Cicero Sings.

Here the crop of the moment is not tomatoes, but apples - several bagsworth scrumped from R's uncle's orchard last weekend - but the principle is the same.

Peel, chop, winnow out the bad ones, render down for freezing. Nothing goes to waste. I have a willing home for all the peels, cores and less than perfect fruit!

Every night I stand there for an hour or so and peel apples. The kitchen smells of them which is, generally speaking, a Good Thing.

And when this batch of apples are finished, it will be time to start on the courgettes. And then the tomatoes. Perhaps pickle some cucumbers. Then there will be the last of the plums. And yet more apples. Finally it will be time to bring in the beans for drying

Just as I did last year.

And the year before. And all the years before that.

It is just what I do at this time of year. I quite like the repetitive nature of the tasks, and it pleases me to see the shelves and freezer filling up. It is also the reward for all that frantic sowing and planting a few months ago.

But this year I have also spent a lot of time wondering exactly why I am doing it. In my current state of aimless bobbing (thank you Boo!) it sometimes seems rather pointless just for me.
R and I spent so much of our lives working towards the day when we could have our own place and raise our own food like this. And it was so much fun doing it together.
This year, on my own, it feels like much more of a chore, even though I know I will enjoy the end result.

There is also a feeling of, if I stop, what then?
I would then have to make a decision about my future. If I let the garden go, it will be a sign that I am not going to stay here. I would have to decide to make a new life in a different place. And that thought is just too scary to contemplate.

So I keep on doing it, because that is what I do.


  1. I keep doing it too - snapping green beans for the freezer, blanching corn, just brought home $50 worth of apples for apple sauce and freezer pies. Why? It's not like I have our family to feed anymore. My appetite is not anywhere near where it used to be. I still have food in the freezer from last year, from "before." But I tell myself the same thing, J - I am doing it because this is what I do. I had to be nearly forced to put in the garden at all this year. I planted it mostly in flowers and popcorn, making bees and neighbors happy. I always have liked the bed prep and seed starting way more than harvest, though. Was just working on being a better harvester.....

  2. I'm in that mode too. I keep on living the life we lived, working towards the dreams we had. So far that still works for me, brings me comfort and is the direction I want to go. But I sometimes wonder how long it will last. How long can I keep working towards the dreams we had together by myself? Interesting to note that others out there are asking similar questions. Actually, it doesn't surprise me at all. That's why I love these blogs.

    Your garden sounds wonderful. I can smell the apples from here!

  3. since i had to move the day of my husband's funeral, move away from the entire area, it has been a nightmare of wishing i was back in the familiar. i do not recommend changing anything until you are absolutely sure it is exactly what you want to do. adventure and changes may or may not be in the cards for you, but do it when you are ready and it is what you have worked towards and planned. the emotional cost of leaving where the two of you have vested so much of yourselves when you are not ready and/or have no other choice is devastatingly high.

    you are in my thoughts and prayers and i wish for you, peace.

  4. It is so hard to bother isn't it? Just a colossal effort!

    But somehow, I think it gives us a sense of stability and routine and there's some comfort to be found in that isn't there?

    I washed up for the first time in three days the other day and was most happy with myself ... LOL xxx

  5. Why thanks for the mention!

    Ah yes, decisions about the future! My friend lost her husband years ago and was told to wait a year before making any major decisions ... I always kept that tidbit of advice in my head. When D first died, my first impulse was ready to sell all and move???? where???? Then I was going to sell his condo in the city ... until I went down there a couple of weeks ago. Of a sudden I wasn't sure. How could I sell that part of our lives? Yet it is a cost and needs attendance and I prefer our little house in the country first and foremost. But the little house in the country is a lot more WORK. And so, until I really know, when my emotions are a little more settled (is that possible), I'll keep both and take each day as it comes. Fortunately, I've worked out my budget and am able to incorporate both, for the time being anyway.

    Doing the every day chores and the seasonal chores does bring some semblance of ordinary into our lives that is rather comfortable and comforting.

  6. Those pigs are adorable and look so contented. More pig photos would not go amiss, before they become chops that is.

  7. @Megan: Digging is probably my favourite part of the whole garden process too. I love the look of a virgin seed bed. All that promise. Nothing has failed to germinate yet, or been eaten or simply keeled over! I have been thinking about planting more flowers next year - a small change in emphasis perhaps, but one that will at least make me smile. But until then, I shall keep on filling the freezer...

    @Debbie: I am glad keeping on is still working for you. It saw me through two years. The glimpses of a future in which I have to think for myself are definitely troublesome. I am not sure I like them at all, but they don't seem to want to go back in the box.

    @WnS: Thank you for your sage advice. My heart breaks for you at being uprooted from your beloved ocean. It seems so unfair on top of losing your Dragon. I hope you one day find your way back to where you want to be. I don't think I would have the strength yet to make any significant changes to my life, even if I knew it was what I wanted to do. That's why I keep on doing what I do.

  8. @Boo: Yes, I have always found the routine to be comforting. Or certainly a better alternative to having to think - which is definitely exhausting at times.
    And well done on seeing off the washing-up monster. You should see the state of my carpets after two weeks of working too many hours and peeling apples in the time left over!

    @Cicero Sings: I think that waiting at least a year is good advice. I think it took that long before I was even capable of making a rational decision about anything important. I can completely understand why you would want to keep D's condo - both from the viewpoint of it being something of his, so how can you possibly let that go, and of keeping your options open. 99% of the time I love being here in the country, but there are times when I need to feel the press of people around me so that I can reconnect with reality. Sometimes I feel I am simply hiding from it here in my little country cocoon.

    @FM: The pigs really are a joy to have around - they are such enthusiastic creatures. I am not looking forward to making the phone call that will be due in not too many weeks' time. But in the meantime, I'm sure some more pictures can be found...

  9. The pigs are really coming along well. I love their big thick ears. It's been awhile since I've scratched a pig's head around the ears. They always seem to love that.

    I miss my old gardens, but also know that what I did was probably right for me. There will be a new garden here in time. Something different, but interesting in its own way. No routines for now, but plenty of work! (-:

  10. Bev, yes the boys are doing well. I currently have half a dozen people who are collecting windfall apples for them from their gardens - they are very happy pigs!

    I know that I would miss my garden so much too, but it really has been a strain for me this year, which is partly what has prompted much of this thinking. I am beginning to think that some sort of landshare arrangement would work for me (and hopefully the other person too). Otherwise I am going to have to get some paid help, which really goes against the grain.
    I can definitely see the appeal to starting a garden from scratch at your new place.