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Larder Legacies, On Doing Hard Things

I'm not sure I can do it, dump a woman's last batch of canning of her life. A life that I can tell was spent the way I spend my days. The woman of this house knew her way around the kitchen. There are seven fridges and freezers here, and I could be missing one. A whole wall in the basement is dedicated to canned goods, which is exactly what it'll see when we finish the gut and rebuild. In the shed alone, I've pulled out hundreds of mason jars, a handful of canners, and bag after bag of saved lids. There are tables throughout the basement and kitchen covered in home canned foods and neat food storage containers. So with all of that, how could I? The act of unsealing these fading jars of treasure and dumping them in the compost is tearing me apart. Each of these shelves houses a thought of the future that was never fulfilled. Those beans should've warmed a belly on a January evening. The peaches were destined for a cobbler, perhaps served after a hearty Thanksgiving feast, but here they are. Here they are, forgotten and fading into the remnants of memory.

I didn't know her. She never thought of me, the woman who would be undoing all of her incredible work. The world probably doesn't define this woman based on her pantry, but I do. I have nothing else to construct her with. Sure, she had great taste in collectable glass and lamps. She held on to useful things and adorable cookie jars, but those were not her legacy. Her legacy, in my corner of consciousness, is tightly sealed in these glass jars.

A brighter future can be seen surrounding the house. Apples hang heavy on various trees dotting the property, autumn olive provides a red glow of abundance, and there are countless edible plants filling every inch that poison ivy hasn't choked out. Boletes speckle the understory of massive oak trees and a patch of indigo milkcaps is popping up under the pines. Every time we visit the land, a new food or medicine presents itself and I am reminded that the sooner we clear out the old and unusable things in the house, the sooner these visits will no longer be anything but homecomings.


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