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June and July, how they fly

I make up blog posts in my head. This generally happens while I'm puttering on something -- picking berries alone, picking beans, cooking, and the only drawback to this is that moving the post from my head to the computer is often not done.

And thus, the portmanteau post. Imagine gorgeous, reflective prose about each of these events. Instead of the long, thoughtful disquisition on patience, and ripeness, and busyness, and preserving moments in jam jars, I give you annotated pictures.

June starts birthdays. Denise got a chocolate-peanut-butter triple layer cake, smuggled to the park in a box for surprising purposes.

Somebody turned eight in July -- and her strawberry cream cake, from Cook's Illustrated, was made with two days' worth of homegrown Tristar berries. Not only did it feed family, friends, and cousins, but some of us may have had slices for breakfast the following day(s). Ahem.

Ignoring the fact that the Blenheim apricot trees are simply loaded for bear, and I'm going to have to figure out how to manage thirty or so pounds of apricots, I ordered some cases of peaches to can. Ellie loves, loves, loves, canned peaches, and I told myself, "How hard can it be?"

 Equipment gathered and canning stations readied, the first day, when I had help, the peaches weren't ripe. Denise and Kevin and I went berry picking and made jam instead. The blackberries on the next island over from us seem to be three distinct varieties.

The little round ones are arranged on sprays of stems -- they remind me of fireworks. Lots of them, and they ripen all at once on a branch. They taste the least sweet. The middle ones have leaves that always look utterly blighted, but they taste good and I think they might be boysenberries. The right ones are classic Himalaya blackberries -- syrup-sweet, but only one or two ripen on a cluster at once. We get lots of those. They also grow in rather distinct bands along the fence. This is my regular picking area, so I spend a lot of time cataloging the patterns of growth and ripeness. This year is a Very Good Year for berries, what with late rain and lots of heat.

The day after next, they were. I rearranged all of the items.

And got to work. Blanching, peeling, splitting, protecting against browning, heating in light syrup, canning, filling, and finally processing in the pressure canner for three cases took me much of a day. Fortunately, I had my niece and nephews as company, too. They would have preferred that I play with them or watch them play, but perseverance was the day's watchword.
As I was staggering around wondering if it was, in the end, worth it, and whether or not I was just being weird and privileged and kind of obnoxious for actually buying organic peaches to can, instead of just buying stupid jars of peaches if the kid wanted them, I noticed the variety.


Today, Denise and I decided that another trip to the berry patch was in order. Jam is always a good thing, right? We picked 32 cups of berries in about two hours. It will be the work of much self-control for me not to go tomorrow too. Maybe I'll post a general "Go and get those berries" notice somewhere, just to feel like they're not going to waste.

Since it was late, three batches of jam-destined berries are macerating under plates in the basement. One bowl is sitting in the kitchen, and one bunch just got cut into in this format


 The boy and girl tell me it's tasty. I was waiting for two things. One, for it to cool, and two, for the Frangipane and Apricot Tart to come out of the oven and be dessert for me.


 Apparently freezing or jamming or canning isn't the only thing I can do with them.


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