I grew up in upstate New York, near Albany, playing-hookey-from-school close to Vermont. The house we lived in the longest had a big yard. When we moved in, the yard had apple and pear trees. My mom added a garden: sunflowers along the street fence, strawberries on the sheltered side of the house, vegetables out back: beans, tomatoes, squash, corn … She was a great gardener. She only cut a small swatch out of the yard — maybe a 12 x 12 plot? — but she got a lot out of it. Enough for ust ot eat well through the long growing season. Enough that she took to canning to save the excess for winter and spring.
The canning was great. I’d never imagined anything like it — mason jars boiling in huge pots of water, apples cooking down to sweet sauce, tomatoes whole or prepared for pasta, pickles, beans … the whole garden distilled into pretty jars lining the shelves of our pantry.
On top of the gardening, my mother was also a bread baker. Friday was the day for the week’s baking. Her standard whole wheat remains one of my favorite sense memories. She tried plenty of varieties beyond whole wheat, though. The Anadama and Boston Brown were definite crowd pleasers.
So why was my mom all about the Sally Homespun thang? Easy. We didn’t have much money and that garden and all her baking meant we could eat well on far less cash. I wasn’t much aware of that reason while I was living in the middle of my mother’s horn of plenty, however, I thought everybody lived that way … and when I found out they didn’t, I felt sorry for them. My mom’s food was good, after all.
Last year, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I really loved it. I read and read and read until finally I realized why I kept having an almost déjà vu experience with parts of the book: it was making me think of my mother over and over again. My mom, a locavore before it was chic! (Yes, just like yesterday’s post, time proves that my mom really does know best!)
Tonight in class, we talked about locavores, food miles, carbon footprints, No Impact Man, and other things eco-conscious. I was pleased to see how much people knew … and just as suprised by things they didn’t know. Jorge, who was the completely silent partner last week, came (quietly) out of his shell tonight with answers to almost every question, which was cool. I talked about my mom’s garden, and Jackie said, “Your mom had some patience. You have to sit there and wait for that cucumber to grow? I’m going to Keyfood!”
Well, at the moment, I’m a Keyfood girl, myself, but I’m feeling inspired. I’m not that far from the green market, and I may still have time to buy into the CSA that delivers near my job. And, too, there’s my own back yard. I’m going to get a small bit of it to use as I will, so …
Happy Earth Day, everyone! (totally stolen from Inhabitat)