As the wheel of the year turns towards Autumnal Equinox each year I try and preserve some of the harvest for our family. In the past I have frozen corn and picked apples for applesauce near the end of September. This year I was home in the second week of September with 20lbs of Roma tomatoes.
There is a rhythm to stirring sauce, peeling tomato skins and chopping vegetables. An almost trance feeling can come over you as you stir and watch the bubbling meld the flavours.
Because, as I've mentioned previously, I spend so much time in the kitchen these days the work I do there has taken on a magical element for me like never before. This is my daily practice, my most constant repeated routine and one that affects the fundamental roots of the household the most.
When we pick apples this year as we have for the past 5 now, we will fill our cloth bags with huge red orbs that along with pumpkins are my most treasured signal of harvest time. The ripening of the earth's bounty is a finite time. A blink and you've missed it. But it also takes lots of time and as this time of year is always full with activities and such I always pick out a few things to try and see if they bring myself and my loved ones joy. Making the tomato sauce was very labour intensive from start to finish. I've learned from this experiment how much I'm willing to dedicate to tomatoes next year. Applesauce is also labour intensive but we've come to love the flavour of our sauce better than that we buy at the store. The key this year will be to make enough to last us through the winter.
The component of preserving the harvest that I find to be the most spiritual is the link I feel to my ancestors while doing it. Certainly as Samhain is just around the corner and the veils thin as the days shorten this work stirs their blood within me. For all of our modern lives and conveniences of the 21st century everyone needs to eat. Through the actions of growing, harvesting, preparing and consuming food we are the most human, the most connected with our mother, the most at the mercy of her grace, and the blessing that another season of bounty will come again.