Tuesday, August 10, 2010

...life goes on

It has been two weeks since my mom took to her bed for the final struggle with cancer. While she is still with us mentally, her body is increasingly saying "no" to the basics of life. The waiting, as the song says, is the hardest part....waiting for her to wake up, to see if she in at all interested in food, juice, water anything...trying not to think about the inevitable but realizing that it is the only thing we have now. It is hard on everyone and we try to find things, positive things, to do with our time.

Today I lucked out and found someone who was picking and selling blackberries. Normally I would love to go and pick them myself (we have purposely not pruned the ones in our yard into oblivion this year). The dusky smell of the summer forest, the heat of the sun, and the pricking of fingers while foraging are like old friends. But this year, with mom, it just doesn't seem possible so I bought some. Mashing them quickly and thoroughly, they now sit oozing their deep purple juice through a jelly bag into my big stock pot. I have another bucket to mash once this once has compressed itself enough to let more bulk into the bag.

Jelly, in its glorious jewel colours, is one of the most satisfying things I make every year. Looking at the tiny pots in the cellar swells the pride and tweaks the tastebuds. Jelly requirea patience. Squeeze the bag with the pulpy mess in it and your reward is a cloudy end product. So you have to let it sit...just sit there oozing. It can be agonizing this wait, but it is purposeful.

Jelly has the added advantage of being able to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their dental status, while jam hides little granules that wedge themselves perfectly and almost permanently underneath partials and dentures causing untold grief. So jelly amply rewards the patience of its creator.

On the way home from the blackberry transaction, I notice that a boy down the street is once again selling apples. Industrious lad, he has picked boxes of transparents and is selling them on the side of the street. I can't resist and now 10lbs of transparents are waiting their final assignment in either pies or sauce lodged safely in the freezer. Soon to come, he assures me, are Macs, spartans, gravensteins, and some yet to be identified variants.

I can wait for those apples. Dream about what they might become in our little kitchen. Apple chips, sauce, a snack, apple cake, the list is only as long as my imagination. This waiting might not make the waiting at the end of life easier on any of us. But it is a way to look forward, to remember that life inevitably goes on and that we can make that a bit easier, and definitely a bit sweeter.