Summer Bounty and… Spice!

summer sunsetBy Alicia Beach

There’s something special about shelves lined with home-canned jars of food. It represents hard work, sun and rain, and God’s provision for our family. Four different kinds of jams and jellies, tomato sauce, crab-apple sauce, salsa… all hand-picked this summer and preserved fresh from our own farm. And there’s still more to come!

It took an entire assembly line to make the salsa. The boys chopped, a few carried in the buckets of peppers and tomatoes, and me? I cut up the hot peppers. They weren’t ghost peppers or anything – My uncle ate one of those and he’s pretty sure his heart skipped a beat in the literal sense – but I was happily chopping away, the house was just filling with spicy sweet tomato smell, and life was good. Then my nose got itchy. It seemed unimportant at the time.

But the more I thought about it, the itchier it became. And then the itch moved to my eye. Rats, the allergies are back, right? So, I reached up and innocently rubbed my eye with one finger, and went back to flicking the seeds out of the hot peppers.

And then the tears started pouring down one side of my face. Pain? Yes. Swollen eye the next day? Definitely.

Lesson learned? Don’t touch your face – or anything else – when you’re chopping those hotties.

Now… can we just take a minute to appreciate the creamy yellow of Lily the cow’s summer butter?

That’s it, compared to store-boughten – which we don’t usually buy, except that I made a bunch of pies for company we were having.

Now that we have a cow, and fresh milk and cream, there’s always extra steps when cooking. Early in the morning the house is full of the usual bacon smells, and there’s a pot of oatmeal on the stove, and Mom filters the morning’s milk through a cloth. This gets rid of any dust or straw that may have floated in during milking. Then she skims the cream off the top of yesterday’s milk and pours it into a jar – but actually “Papa Bear” gets first dibs for his coffee. The jar of cream gets handed off to whatever unsuspecting kid happens to be standing in the way. Usually one of the boys shakes it until their arms get tired. After ten minutes or so, the fat molecules in the cream get shaken out of position and clump together to make butter. Press the buttermilk out, add a pinch of salt, spread on toast… Far more satisfying than just going to the grocery store and buying a pound.

Words simply don’t cover what I wanted to write next.

My Canadian summer of warmth, and color, the busy days and idle nights. Afternoons spent romping through the forest, speckled with bug bites, and capturing slimy frogs with my brothers. Pajama parties and way too much giggling with my sisters. Being apart from my besties and grandparents because of the virus. Wearing a facial mask to the grocery store. Finding a kitten in the ditch at the side of the road. Saying goodbye to my Grandpa. Finally getting to go to church again!

The good, the bad, and the bittersweet, facing the drastic changes head-on with the knowledge that our lives will never be the same.

Psalm 31:7 – “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.”

The following is a little photo collage of this summer around the farm. All the sunshine-y speckles of joy and creation – the artwork of the Lord! – the moments where I just had to grab the camera and capture the beauty to share later!

summer boots summer butter summer jars summer kitten summer milksummer sunflowers

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