Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Same day, different generation

Daniel and Ellen McFadden
in front of their farmhouse 
Summer is my busy time in the garden and in the kitchen. We grow a lot of fruit and vegetables, and we spend a lot of time harvesting and preserving them; I am a dehydrating maniac for three or four months of every year. Yesterday, I found myself getting a bit overwhelmed with all that I had to do, so I spent a few minutes comparing my day to my great-grandmother's day. I realized that many of our tasks were the same, but we didn't always do them the same way.

The first thing I did yesterday was laundry. She would have been doing laundry, too; but she would have had to pump the water, heat it on the stove, wash the clothes in a tub, wring them out with a wringer, hang them on the line, and then fold them. She had thirteen children to enlist in the process, and I know from my grandmother that she did delegate. Still, all things considered, my load was considerably less work. I put the clothes in my washing machine, transferred them to the dryer when the washer beeped, and took them out of the dryer and folded them when the dryer beeped.

Daniel and Ellen McFadden Family, 1907
Next up, transferring yesterday's frozen dried apricots into bags, and putting today's onto trays to freeze. (I like to freeze them individually before I bag them; otherwise they turn into a brick of apricots. And I freeze them because we like them best when they're not quite all the way dry; when they're still a bit soft and gooey, they are just incredibly yummy.)

Great-grandmother didn't have an electric dehydrator; she canned everything. Over a wood-burning stove. In the middle of the summer in Minnesota. No electricity, no air-conditioning, no deep freeze in the garage in which to put them.

You see where this is going?

I washed out the dehydrator trays (I have running water! Heated running water!), prepared a big batch of kale chips and plugged in the dehydrator. I gave it a little wave and left it to do its thing for the next couple of hours. I weeded the garden, picked blackberries, squash, and peppers. I checked on the peaches, plums, pluots, plumcots and nectarines; they're all getting close, but done of them are quite ripe yet. I have a couple of days respite from preserving fruit.

Yes, most of my time in the summer revolves around preserving our harvest, just as hers did; and even though she had a lot of help from her children, she had to preserve a lot more than I do in order to feed them over the winter. I am grateful for her legacy, and I am extremely grateful for my modern conveniences.

1 comment:

Marcia DeCoster said...

nice noticing, it does help us with our perspective. Guess I need to plan a visit soon!