We’ve all learned how certain practices support others. Such a taking a walk can help us work out a problem or vacuuming the carpet encourages the resolution for a dilemma.
For me, it is the hard labor of picking fruit and canning that helps to sort out my mental challenges. However, it is more physically demanding than I’d like, but, I planted the fruit trees, so I have no excuse to complain.
I also have chickens just for the eggs, let me be clear. And, in case you didn’t know, keeping chickens in a suburban environment is not maintenance free. Unlike a farm where the chickens can run and find shelter away from a predator, neighborhood chickens are trapped inside their run.
So, I have built what I call “Chicken Alcatraz” out of hardware cloth (very strong ¼” gauge wire) to keep raccoons and hawks out.
Unlike the fruit trees when I feel the need to take a break, I can go outside and pick up a chicken for a snuggle. It works well and feels good.
But, back to the fruit trees. I really should not complain when my Blenheim Apricot tree is giving me an abundance of fruit and, I can’t stand for the fruit to go to waste. So, I’m out there in the hot sun collecting fruit for canning.
The canning process
“Water bath canning” is not difficult, but you do need to adhere to the rules to avoid any contamination as well as to ensure a secure vacuum seal to keep it from spoiling. Other than that, it’s just the labor that can be tough.
The process is easy to follow for making Apricot jam:
• Heat water to boiling in a large pot and place glass canning jars with lids and bands inside.
• While the jars are being heated, prepare 5 cups of apricots by removing the pits and cut into small pieces. Leave the skin on.
• Place fruit into a heavy-duty pot with ¼ cup of lemon juice and heat through.
• Bring fruit to boiling and add 1 package of pectin. Continue to boil the fruit for another minute, stirring constantly.
• Add required amount of sugar and continue stirring constantly. Bring mixture back to a rolling boil for exactly one more minute.
• Remove hot jars one at a time and add fruit mixture, being sure to keep the edges clean and seal lids tightly. After all the jars are filled, return them to the hot water bath for 10 minutes.
• Remove jars to a cooling area. After several minutes, you should hear a “popping” sound which indicates the jars have sealed properly. You will know this as the center will no longer have a slight bump. If a jar has not sealed, put it in the refrigerator. Under normal conditions, the sealed jars are good for 18 months until opened.
How does this relate to my writing?
Picking the fruit, one at a time is equivalent to finding a topic to write about. Each piece is another idea. If ideas repeat themselves with each piece of fruit, I know I’m onto something.
Pitting and cutting the fruit is my process of sorting out the pieces of the article and honing it down to one specific topic.
Stirring is the writing process, a slow methodical stir around and around, revising and rereading.
Finally, the article is ready for publication as each jar is filled and represents where I post it online.
If I’m looking for a topic, going out to the fruit trees works every time.
(Photo by Miguel Maldonado-Unsplash)