I have been canning this summer. If you know me at all, you know this is a new practice for me. My mother made elderberry preserves for years when I was a child, as we lived in a townhouse development that backed up to open meadows where elderberries grew wild in the hedgerows. Her jars were the small ones with the quilted glass that made the dark-purple jam refract like a jewel.
I, too, find myself in debt to a volunteer plant. Last summer, I complained and ranted about my weed tree and its seemingly-endless fig drop. I believe I may have even compared the rotting, fetid fruits on my patio to the deposits my dogs sometimes leave there when they forget themselves and the more-than-adequate area provided them for such activities by the yard.
This summer, however, I have made a study of my tree...my Brown Turkey Fig tree, also known as a Texas Everlasting. It has three harvests per year and produces a fruit that is mottled green and wine-colored when ripe, rather than deep purple as with the Black Mission figs. Its jam is a most lovely amber color, full of tiny seeds, and my favorite part of the canning process is scooping the stuff into the jars that make them look like pints of smoky quartz. I am an object person, after all, much more than a cook or a consumer of jam. And, so, these little quilted jars are destined for Christmas boxes and wrappings come December.
The true irony is that I find myself suddenly vigilant about my harvest and thus in a constant battle with the finches, the jays, and the squirrels to make sure I don't lose many ripe fruits to their nibbles and pecks. This morning, I found this particular exhibit left by one of my house finches, I think, and it reminded me of a line from one of my poems...
"Under the sweet logia air, he writes it into his book of measures, and the fruit opens into a star." (from "The Baluster and the Pomegranate Flower," In Defense of Objects, 2009)
It's almost enough to make one wonder whether animals possess aesthetic sense. In any case, another lovely object.