It’s tomato canning season again, which always keeps my hands busy and my heart happy. Canning reminds me of my dad, mom, and my grandma, who would gather when I was young to harvest their bounty. Now, in my own kitchen, I continue the tradition alone and with each pop of a lid, I sink deeper into my happy place. I always tell Sean that I wish I could can tomatoes for a living, but in reality, the beauty of canning season is its fleeting presence. It doesn’t last long, so I must savor it while I can.
This year, I bought my tomatoes from a small market down the road from our house; $9 for a half bushel of some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever canned. (Each year, I wonder how much they cost me the year before, and so I will record it in this space to remember.)
When I first brought the bushels home, I thought that I would let June Bea play a role. Climbing onto her stool, she watched me wash the skins of the red tomatoes, then place the clean ones, one after the other, onto the counter beside her. At first, I was impressed with her attention span. She was so content to stand and watch this process. But quickly, I realized her watching was not in vain. As my hands went under the cool water to wash the next tomato, she took the opportunity to snatch one, sinking her teeth deep into the skin.
Insert Plan B… Prying the tomato from her grasp, I put her in the sink, shirtless. Perhaps a new angle would distract her from eating my loot. Standing high above the tomatoes, she gladly joined the process, splashing water upon herself and me, the counter tops and the windows; rinsing the tomatoes as a mere side effect of her playfulness. I let continue this way for awhile, before pulling her from the sink and deciding to finish during naptime.
Gladly, I’ll take an afternoon in the sink as a solid start to her canning career. She gave me everything she had at this stage. Maybe next year she will be more help. Maybe next year, she won’t want to help at all. It hard to know what the future holds. And so I am grateful for this season’s bounty and the little hands that made the experience a lot more fun.