Saturday, September 09, 2006

Old Traditions

Today I will can green beans. For some, that might seem like a pointless exercise, especially in a world with canned green beans at the grocery store that go on sale periodically. It's a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of heat but I do it.

Growing up, my parents always grew a huge garden with double rows of every vegetable you could think of. There would be a huge patch of squash and watermelon, six rows of carrots, a couple of rows of red potatoes, beets, radishes, many rows of corn, peas, and of course green beans. I think my mother is really partial to green beans. She's never said so, but anyone who grows six fourty foot rows of green beans and spends three weeks canning them really has to like them more than the average individual.

Yes, six. Well, growing up that's what we had. One year we grew four double rows of beans. Huge long walls of green that seemed to last forever when you were crawling on your knees trying desperately to get to the end of the weeding before Price is Right was over and a sunburn developed on the back of your neck. Or when you were slowly digging through the vines, bucket in hand partly wanting to search only halfheartedly for the beans but doing a decent job anyway to avoid the embarrassment of Mom or Dad picking behind you and pointing out all the ones you missed. The year we grew so many we sold them to an open market and my parents used the money to help pay for a new tv for the family. Hard work earns you something was apparently the lesson we were supposed to learn from that. I think I mostly just learned to hate picking beans.

But not eating them. Mom always grows Blue Lake pole beans. Somehow these are just better and that's why I'm canning beans today. They are worth the time. Besides there's a sense of accomplishment that you can only feel as you look at rows of green beans lined up on a towel on your kitchen counter. My husband provides for our family, but this is one way I can tangibly contribute to the household. This is my part. Food for the winter, work that is given for the good of the family in the same way my grandmother gave. I do it not for traditions sake, but because the contribution still makes sense.


Mom said...

Thanks, Amy. I love that you feel the rewards of old-fashioned work. We've had a fun day.

Kim said...

Love your post. It resonates with me. We always had a big garden, too, and a freezer and pantry of food put away for the winter. I hated weeding and picking, too, but I have a small garden now. There's nothing like the taste of food you've grown, as you know, and the satisfaction of honest work and a contribution. Thanks for reminding me today.

Lisa Moorefield said...

Hi Amy! This is the first time I've visited your blog and I love your writing style. I love the photos of your family on the side with all the cute descriptions. And reading this green bean post brought back so many memories! Canning is certainly a lost art (around here anyway) so kudos to you! Personally, there's no way I'm picking another green bean. ;)

Lisa ("lemonade stand" on 2peas)