Preserving

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Tomorrow is April 1st. As I write that I feel a frisson of excitement. April is National Poetry Month (in Canada, the U.S. and perhaps other places too). This April, as I’ve done during the last several Aprils, I’m planning to drop other projects and works-in-progress and concentrate on poetry. Yes!!

Last year I wrote a poem a day and posted those freshly written puppies here on the blog.

This year I’m planning to do something a little different. I’ll still be posting a poem a day but from my pantry or cold room, so to speak. I have written many poems over the years that I’ve never published or posted anywhere. This April I’m going give some of them their first outing. I may publish a poetry book review or two and some how-to pieces as well.

If I know the poem’s inspiration or prompt, I’ll post that. If you decide to use that prompt to write a poem of your own, you’re most welcome to type your poem into comments so we can all enjoy your take on the subject.

(I’ll still be writing a poem a day. But I won’t be going public with them while they’re still warm from the oven, at least not most days…I’m a slow writer–need time to rethink, revise, work out the kinks, etc.).

Wishing you a wonderful month of preserving.

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Image: Pixabay

Preserving

Near multitude of washed Gem jars
next to the stove with boiling pot
of glass tops, zinc and rubber rings
she stacks the beans to chop-chop-chop.

Stainless steel bowls of new-shelled peas
wait still and mute for boiling bath
three-minute scald then colander scoop
into cold water filled with cubes.

Skins of tomatoes, peaches, beets
slip easily after scalding soak
hands soon stained red, sticky with juice
of roundness slippery as wet soap.

Sliced cucumbers sit overnight
in salty brine before they take
their Million Dollar Pickle bath
tart vinegar, mustard, turmeric.

In steamy kitchen open-mouthed
boxes wait scoop of beans or peas
jars merrily clink in canning pot
our cold room soon is rainbow-raised

with rich wine beets and red chow-chow
yellow peaches, pickles green
a freezer piled with boxes neat
of carrots, broccoli, peas and beans.

I too gather from my life’s plot
dehydrate, freeze, pickle and can
sustenance for my winter’s days
preserve with paper and with pen.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Prompt or inspiration:

I wrote this poem in response to Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” considered one of the top 100 poems of all time. It was linked on Adele Kenny’s blog The Music In It, her post of April 2015 poetry prompts.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm. Two days ago her blog was 7 years old. On her blogaversary post, she shared her National Poetry Month inspirations for the last several years. I love the many ways and places that people find inspiration for writing!

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27 thoughts on “Preserving

  1. At my house if was freezing. The only thing my mother canned was pickles, and she was famous for them. And that four to six weeks of picking, shelling, blanching, and packing was probably my least favorite season of the year. I tried canning tomatoes once, but it didn’t stick. I do love eating all those fresh veggies in the winter, though. I guess you can’t have one without the other. Nice work on the poem, especially that last quatrain. I suppose that’s my favorite kind of preserves.

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    • Thanks, Doraine! I also had little appreciation for all the work my mom did in the garden and then getting the garden products ready for the winter months. Sometimes I wish I was back there as an adult to experience the seasonal cycles… until I recall the exhaustion and swollen feet got from working in the hot kitchen, even as a teen. A walk through the can and freezer sections of the store is much easier!

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  2. Hi Violet: Your poem brought back memories of making elderberry jelly (the BEST!), peaches, raspberry rhubarb jam, etc. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I did, and a connection with my mother and grandmother who canned more than I can imagine. I like your description of “rich wine beets” and your last verse… reminds me of a favorite picture book: Frederick by Leo Lionni. Cheers!

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    • Thank you, Karen! You can make jelly out of elderberries? I did not know that. We have elderberries here in spring, though they may be a different kind. But I know the sense of accomplishment you’re talking about… those cupboards lined with plump luminous jars. I must refresh my memory of Frederick… the title is familiar but I don’t recall the story. Have a happy April!

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    • Thank you, B.J.! Yes, I think this is a memory of an earlier generation. The memories my kids have will not be of a mom that was as busy or consistent. For me it was stages and phases—the dehydrating phase, the jam-making phase, now mostly the store-bought phase (sigh). But they may have memories of me writing 🙂

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  3. This poems makes me yearn for summer and all the freshness it brings. I love your idea for your poetry project, and I can’t wait to see what else you share with us.

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  4. Oh this is so exciting! I don’t think I’ll be able to post something every day, but I’ll certainly be able to follow along with everyone who is taking poetry month by storm this April! It’s a lovely idea to be giving some of your older poems their moment in the sun – looking back at older things you’ve written can be fascinating, you can really see how your style or tastes evolve over time!

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    • Thank you, Jane! I’ve actually had a lot of fun digging into the archives already… and revisiting the spaces I was in when I wrote. (I love how you express it: “taking poetry month by storm”—you have a great way with words!)

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  5. “Gathering from my life’s plot” is a grand turning from the sweat and toil of canning. I’ve never done it myself, but helped everyone else. A favorite part of my “plot” was going to my grandmother’s root cellar to see all the jewels down there. I wish I had a photo, only in my mind’s eye. I’ll look for your ‘cold storage’ Violet.

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  6. Violet this poem is just wonderful! The idea of saving for the future….home grown vegetables AND words. I adore your Poems from the Pantry idea. I think you have a nice idea for a collection. There is so much poetry in growing things. “I gather from my life’s plot” that’s just multilayer briallant there.

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    • Thanks, so much, Kay! If you take the time to read the prompt poem, you’ll see where that inspiration (of making it a metaphor of writing) came from, only Seamus Heaney does it way better.

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  7. You have Gem jars, we have Ball jars. Mom made pickles (won prizes at the county fair), I’ve had my best success with peach chutney.

    The urge to preserve is strong. It’s survival at its best, whether in jar or on paper.

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