It’s jam season again. I don’t know why I make so much jam. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. It’s the first thing we all learn to can–you can’t mess it up except when you get distracted and put double the sugar in then try to scoop it out, like happened to the 2017 vintage. That was much less like jam and more like soupy goop that I couldn’t throw away.

One day, I had a vision and changed the label from “jam” to “peach syrup” even though it wasn’t really syrup, but it wasn’t exactly jam either. I used it for oatmeal, to carbonate kombucha, and to put on vanilla ice cream. Problem solved.

But still, I’m getting buried in jam. It’s threatening to take over my shelves, hog my jars, and maybe even be the thing that stops the zombie apocalypse instead of prepares for it, because I can just throw the jars at them and they’ll die of diabetes before they get me.

It’s time to eat the jam before I make more.

I brought a few bottles into work. I’m working remote these days, but I go to New York City once a week so I can see humans instead of emails, dogs, and chickens. It’s good for my soul.

I really love these people, which is why I felt a little guilty bringing the jam. I’d promised to make cheesecake and never got the inspiration, so at 4AM on my way out the door there wasn’t much else I could grab. I would’ve baked a loaf of bread, but I didn’t want it to be overnight stale, and there are artisan bakers all over the City.

The jam would’ve gotten the same thanks here that you give your great aunt when she gives you the knit holiday sweater. “Thannnnkkkkksssss.” Then, you put it away in the closet.

Not in New York. Even year-old “vintage” jam was a hit. “Put your orders in for next year. It’s time!”

“You don’t have to do that…”

“Trust me,” I said. It’s no harder to make one as it is to make one hundred.” If you only saw my cellar… “Just let me know ahead of time so I can plan for you.”

Jam is a thing of excess, a rural afterthought.  The thing you give when you have nothing to give. It’s like “the chips” at a picnic. If you’re “the chip guy” when people tell you what you can bring, you have no value. The meat dude’s essential. The beer guy’s close to God. But the chip guy? You’ll survive without him.

That’s where jam ranks in the grand scheme of things.

So, to see it valued, prized… and to discuss my poser homestead with real foodies… “We can rent this little plot.” The plot she described was a few feet by a few feet. Herbs maybe?

“I dream of getting out into the country like that.”

It’s not the first time I’ve had that conversation in the city.  I’ve talked chickens, brewing, growing, planting, farming–all the things I started because I was flat broke and looking to live off the land. I learned often growing your own food is more expensive, but even when it is, the quality is better, and having the ability to be self-reliant, even if I don’t always choose to be that way for everything or wreck a lot of what I try… it’s good for me.

But I didn’t really appreciate it until I started talking food in New York City.

“It’s a question a lot of people have.”  Food is a social construct. Food defines us. Food as an economic status symbol. Food as an extension of psychology.

Fascinating stuff. I want to explore that more. The fact that the very things I take for granted as relaxing but still my daily routine would be a vacation or privilege to others–that’s big. I forgot that in some ways recently.  It was a nice reminder to have.


Photo credit: Timothy Eberly on Unsplash