Canning ends with move to AR

As a college student the pioneering spirit called me. I yearned for the experience of gardening and canning its produce. I married a man with a similar dream. He raked the freshly plowed garden, made furrows, planted seeds and spent his weekend eliminating weeds.
He relished each piece of fresh produce from our garden that we ate, canned or frozen. Initially we borrowed jars from his mother’s excess. Eventually I owned hundreds of jars that I filled each summer and emptied each winter. Our 10-feet deep basement had two ceiling-to-floor sets of shelves built just for canning jars. We bought the largest freezer we could find to hold fruits and vegetables, sides of beef and 50 pounds of popcorn our family of five sons consumed for snacks each y ear.
Canning season began shortly after the school year ended with flats of fresh strawberries I transformed into quarts of jam. We spent weekdays in the garden and weekends at nearby orchards picking bushels of fruit.
The easiest day was when we picked blueberries and bagged them for the freezer. The worst day was when I cut up dozens of tiny, sweet pumpkins to puree and process through the pressure cooker. The next day my cutting arm would not move.
In our ninth and 10th summers I kept busy canning or freezing about 700 quarts of fruits and vegetables. At the beginning of our 11th summer we sold our house, garden and canning shelves. Just before the Realtor called us, I had gotten a bushel of green beans to clean, cut and can. I was so stunned I forgot about them. They rotted in their basket.
The moving company sent three men to pack up the house. One man wrapped and boxed canning jars. The other two packed everything else.
We left our two-story house with a basement and the fertile soil of Indiana for the hardened clay of Arkansas and a cement-slab house. I spent hours unwrapping canning jars. The top shelves of the kitchen and laundry room were crammed with jars. I was ready to begin canning, but I never did. Gardening wasn’t the same as it had been in Indiana. And, let’s face it, I was tired of my great pioneering adventure.
I coveted my kitchen shelves for other things. I stuffed boxes of canning jars in the storage space over our garage and stocked up on grocery store sales of fruits and vegetables. Through the years, I sold all my canning equipment and most of the jars.
In the summer I overhear women chatting about their busy week putting up butter beans, canning peaches or making brine for pickles. I listen with empathy. Sometimes at a pot luck dinner, I get a taste of triple sweet corn from someone’s garden, blanched, cut off the cob and frozen. It tastes so good. I think wistfully of garden fresh corn — until I remember those hot summer days spent fishing ears of corn out of steam baths. And that’s quite enough to make grocery store corn taste mighty good.
The pioneering spirit calls, but I am no longer home.