What's Really in This Jam?

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You might spread this strawberry jam on your toast and eat it without hardly registering the complex flavors of the organic berries picked in a drizzling June rain, the air chilly on the edge of cold, and the mingling of grief and comfort. These berries were cooked into jam straight from the garden on a grey June day.

strawberry jam shrunk.JPG

Last Saturday started with the kids and I leaving the farm set for an adventure (well at least I was and the kids had no choice). We drove due south trying to find a road crossing the 20 mile long Marsh Lake and Preserve. We drove into the preserve where the Minimum Maintenance: Travel at Your Own Risk road gave way to a grass track- “hang on kids!? I yelled as I floored the minivan through some mud spots. It occurs to me that I don’t have my cell phone. The egrets and herons rise up looking like Pterodactyls in a world before time. When I can’t drive any further I get out of the van, climb the rise that’s blocking our way, and see miles of marshy land and lake. Time to turn around. I’m so glad I’m not a pioneer trying to cross this wet land with oxen and wagon. We drive around Marsh Lake on the county highways and make our way to Brad and Kristi’s Coyote Grange to U-pick organic strawberries.

While the kids ran wild, Kristi and I picked berries side by side. She’s a connoisseur of berries like a sommelier is a connoisseur of wine. She brought me different varieties to taste- I liked each one better than the last. Kristi and I have a common bond—we’ve both lost a sweet little lovey— our darling daughters Nora and Milly Rose. Over the berry picking, pausing once in a while to look into each other’s eyes, we talked about our love, loss, trauma, and continuing passages to… what (?). The feelings of grief and comfort passed through our fingers and into these berries. Our combined five children play around us—dripping with strawberry juice as they eat their weight in berries. Alma is hanging close by to hear the retelling of losing her sister (she was only 3.5 when Milly died).

Hungry, we left Coyote Grange and headed to Appleton for lunch. At the café on mainstreet we met a woman without a home-- camping in the city park and visiting her boyfriend in the prison. She’d found a job in town, but couldn’t see how she would get a roof over her head. She’d come in the cafe from the cold drizzle and could only afford a cup of coffee. “I’m not much for eating anyway…? We bought her some lunch and were back on our way. Halfway home we pulled into the Drywood Church’s gravel parking lot and all took a ½ hour nap. It was gloriously refreshing.

So maybe if you’re lucky enough to get some of this jam (we picked 11 gallons of strawberries so don’t be surprised if you do) you’ll now taste all the loveliness and heartache of a day in and around Big Stone County.

9 Comments

Kathy, all I can think is??? HOW AWESOME YOU ARE, INCLUDING YOUR PRECIOUS FAMILY! Happy you had a good day picking berries, buried with memories in JAM... what a treasure! Love to you neice,
...HAPPY 4th...Bev

Thank you Bev-- I have good roots that make this life so rich! All this great family heritage out on the prairie. Hope that you have a very nice 4th of July!

HUGS and Love to you my friend!

Kathy,
A wonderful website - heard about it from Evan and Linda and enjoy reading about your new journey. We also were on a road like that on a fishing trip up north years ago. Got to the end of the road - had to turn around and go back through it all again! Your strawberry jam reminds me of Mom making jam and sauce every summer. So Good!!

Lorna

i was out in my garden this moring talking to my grandma and thinking about milly and then i come in to read your blog over my moring coffee. I was asking my grandma if i would get strawberries this year, and i can't wait to eat yours and i will eat it straight out of the jar. The love and sweetness in the jar i know will be the best. I love ya and miss you all.

Kelley

i was out in my garden this moring talking to my grandma and thinking about milly and then i come in to read your blog over my moring coffee. I was asking my grandma if i would get strawberries this year, and i can't wait to eat yours and i will eat it straight out of the jar. The love and sweetness in the jar i know will be the best. I love ya and miss you all.

Kelley

Oooooh! Look at that beautiful jam. Now I'm serious...we're moving in.... :)

My rose bushes have doubled this year, and they're in full bloom. I sit on my porch and think of our roses--Milly and Baby Rose--and am thankful they were ours. I wish they were with us longer. But when life hands you lemons...make jam. Or a garden.

Love ya, lady!

OK, so this will eleminate plateauing? Plateauing in my worst problem. It makes me give up.

Sick! Just got a new BB Pearl and I can now read your blog on my phone's browser, it didn't work on my old one.

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on July 3, 2008 11:02 AM.

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