There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

mother's work

A MOTHER'S WORK is never done. I've heard this all my life, and it still applies after she's gone. It's hard to believe it has been almost nine years since my mother died. Still, I feel her constant presence in my life. This year has been especially active with serendipitous happenings. This lets me know that there is only a thin veil of consciousness separating my day-to-day life from her undying spirit. My mother's handiwork continues to weave itself into my life's fabric in surprising ways, so I persevere in honor of her yearly preserving.

BELLES OF BALL | Last year, replicas of Ball's blue 1913 Perfect Mason Jar were released, selling eight times what the company projected; this year it reissued the brand's green 1914 Perfection line.
MY MOTHER WAS industrious to say the least—from putting up her famous dill pickles, icicle pickles, bread and butter pickles and sometimes, green tomato pickles every year—to canning and freezing almost every uneaten vegetable that was produced from our family garden. Those perfect pickles are all gone now (my nephew Kris still tries his hand at making them), but this year I found a commercially available version that came as close as my memory can get to how those divine garlicky-dill cucumber spears tasted.

FITTED FOR FLOWERS | The sealing lids that come with the jars have been replaced with flower frog lid inserts to create this floral tree (made by Ashland and distributed by Michaels).
THIS "TREE" celebrates all this by using blue and green retro canning jars as vases for a lush flower display. Although my mother's jars were always clear glass (produced much later), she always saved and reused the rings and jars, only buying new inner lids every year to ensure a proper seal for the joys of next season's pickle and relish tray. The tiered wire stand is reminiscent of the canning and sterilizing process used to prepare the jars for the careful alchemy of preserving.

I MISS THOSE DAYS of being able to run to the hall closet to fetch another jar of pickles, German vegetable soup, pickled okra, or canned stewed tomatoes. I miss our bountiful family garden we grew every year, sharing a large garden plot and responsiblity with the neighbors who lived across the street and next door. The garden was luxuriously large by many standards today. We grew at least 10 football-field-length rows of Silver Queen corn, several rows of snap beans with bamboo teepees for them to entwine, a half row of carrots, a couple of rows of potatoes, squash, radishes, purple-hulled peas, butter beans . . . the list goes on-and-on, and only changed slightly from year-to-year.

LOCAL TREASURES | These truly incredible artisan chocolates are handmade by Adam Turoni of Chocolat by Adam Turoni, based in Savannah, Georgia—a richly tasty way to celebrate the sweet times.
THIS IS A SYMBOLIC celebration of that yearly harvest that continued into the fall with a second late summer planting of turnip greens, mustard greens and collards. Life will never be the same for this boy that has chosen to live in the city, but I will always have the memories of the fruits of mother's work of preserving the bounty from my father's carefully-planted and tended crops. I am lucky to know what it took to make all of this happen, as well as having had a hand in it. To have gotten my hands dirty in the soil, helped me learn that we truly reap what we sow in life, even symbolically. This exuberant and bountiful crop of flowers (the peach-colored roses I grew in a container garden) are a living metaphor for a life well-lived, under the tutelage of a mother (and a father) that taught me how to love. This is a happy Mother's Day because her work is still not done. And this is my way of remembering.

collecting, growing, photography and styling by Darryl Moland.