TOP O' THE MORN: Preserving memories

Grandpa always said if we were going to plant a tree, it should be one that will bear fruit. He never thought about landscaping his property with evergreens or rock gardens.

Summer was never a season of vacations. One laid by in summer for the lean months of winter. Surveying a shelf of home-canned peaches, Grandma would say, “How good they will taste when the snow flies.” A small one in our family created her own saying, “How good they will taste when the snow flies come.”

The only boating the family did was while fishing on the Skagit River in Grandpa’s rowboat. Fish were plentiful and free — meat to be smoked in his smokehouse on the river bank.

With a garden, berries, orchard, a cow, chickents and hard work, a family could be almost self-sufficient and have enough to give to the sick or poor.

The cow gave full-fat milk for cream, butter and cheese, plus a calf each year. Garden and orchard bounty were canned, dried, jellied, pickled and jammed. And always black cherry wine for the stomach’s sake.

A special chore for children was keeping the big dishpan full of black cherry jam from burning. On a sizzling midsummer day, one slowly moved the ladle across the bottom of the pan, back and forth, interminable until the mixture was thick, black and glossy. There was no pectin to hurry the process. One cooked it down and if it took an hour, two hours, so what. It had to be done to have plenty laid down for winter.

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