Enjoy your week of summer!

It’s hot here in the greater Boston area. The last three days it’s been in the low 90s during the day, high 70s at night with the standard miserable amount of humidity. It has been a very cold summer so far. This has been our first real heat wave, and given that we’re in the middle of August, there isn’t a whole lot of really hot possibilities left. We don’t have central air conditioning — instead we have four really big, really have box ACs that we usually put in the windows — cursing and sweating — somewhere in early July. They’re so obnoxious to install and then remove that we don’t put them in until we HAVE to. And now it seems a little late. All that effort for the remaining two or three weeks where it MIGHT be that hot? Turn on the overhead fans, and suffer, says I.

Then on Saturday in his good-night nursing, Thane seemed hot. Really hot. To the touch. All that night he seemed really hot. When we finally got around to taking his temperature, even after we’d administered Tylenol, it came in at 102.4. Ouch. 90 outside. 102.4 in your body. So you’d think that Thane would be super fussy and uncomfortable. Nah. He’s mellow and going with the flow, although he is a touch fussier than usual and is completely uninterested in food. (That’s ok — you don’t need to eat a ton all the time. I do, however, wish he was more interested in beverages. I think he’s at high risk for dehydration.)

So my helpful brother installed the AC in Thane’s room. It’s already one of my favorite rooms in the house. Now, however, I am trying to talk my husband into moving our bed there.

I’m working from home with Thane today. My brother took Grey to and (will) from daycare, and is pinch-hitting with Thane while I work. His temp was down to an unmedicated 99.9 this morning and 99.4 this afternoon, so he’s clearly on the mend. I might’ve sent him to daycare this time last year, but with the swine flu rooting around, it seems like the better thing to do to keep him home. My only regret is that work has AC.

I spent most of the weekend making jam. Ok, that’s not ACTUALLY true, but it feels true. On Saturday, after swimming lessons and before our trip to the pool I made a batch of strawberry jam from $2/pint organic strawberries from the Farmer’s Market outside the YMCA in Melrose. Then I made blueberry jam from our farmshare blueberries. Then I realized I’d totally underestimated just how much sugar jam takes and my paltry 5 lb bag was completed wiped out.

Sunday, my husband and Grey picked up more sugar and pectin for me after church. I put in a second batch of strawberry jam from the farmer’s market strawberries (strawberry is the jam of choice in our household). I have plans for two to three more batches. I have peaches, but I didn’t buy QUITE enough and I’m likely to get some from our farmshare tomorrow. Also, the peaches aren’t quite ripe, so they can stand another day or two of sitting around. I’m also planning on farmshare apricot jam. I got only about half the apricots I needed, so I processed them and will hopefully get another 20 apricots this week, which should be enough. My husband has requested marmalade, which I’ve never made before, so I may give that a shot, too.

So my jam count:
2 strawberry (completed)
1 blueberry (completed – unless I get a lot more farmshare blueberrries)
1 peach (fruit obtained)
1 apricot (50% fruit obtained)
1 marmalade (speculative)

I find jamming intensely satisfying. There is something about capturing the moment – about your hard work turning these ephemeral items into the durable, delicious product that I will eat for the rest of the year, share with friends, give as gifts, and feed my family with.

It’s also something I’ve done since I was a girl. My mom has been making raspberry jam every summer since well before I was, er, 6? I know we had raspberries in Prosser, and I think she planted them in Bonner’s Ferry. Fresh homemade jam plus fresh homemade bread is one of the great delights of summer.

When I stand stirring the dark jam, the hot sugar and fruit smell permeated the kitchen, with sweat beading out and darkening the small curls on the back of my neck, hearing the “pop” of the previous batch of jam setting. Well. Those are the moments that are the last to leave you when you look back on your life.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

4 thoughts on “Enjoy your week of summer!”

  1. I will be over in about 40 min to eat all of the blueberry! And then will move in until the peach and apricot are done…yummmmmm.

    (I am insanely excited that our Wee Blueberry Bush has so far produced enough blueberries that I’ll able to make muffins from them!!)


  2. OHHHHH YUM!!!

    (3 of Paul’s coworkers are coming camping too – they got their own site for the weekend. I think you’ve met them all at either New Year’s or a Helga’s at some point. Not that you’re one who is scared of new people, like me 😉 )


  3. Actually, in Bonner’s Ferry, the raspberries were already planted. There were two wonderful rows. It is probably where I started serious jam making.

    This year a wonderful raspberry crop was wiped out by the heat. We got your warm!


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