Granny: “My gracious, here ’tis 8 oclock, and all I’ve got done is milked the cow, churned butter, got the wash out, cooked breakfast and did up the dishes… I’m not gonna get anything done today!”

A remark like this usually prefaced an order to ‘git to the garden’ this time of year. Whatever was ripe was picked, brought to the porch. Granny wanted this done no later than 10, so the whole process could be finished in one day.

And it wasn’t just Granny, it could be at the home of any woman in our community. The scenario was much the same.

Washtubs would be filled from the hand pump and the available produce cleaned and prepared to put in jars.

If there was family or friends there to help with the canning,, as was often the case, a young rooster or two might be sacrificed for dinner.

Wood was carried in to the stove, hands busy washing jars, cutting the chicken, cooking what ever would go into the jars. Chatter and sounds of children playing filled the hot steamy kitchen.

Fried chicken, of course, was not enough in itself, biscuits, gravy, and veggies filled the spaces left on and in the stove. The ‘men folk’ had to have a hearty dinner… and they did, served first, then plates for the women and kids. And always, the clean up had to be finished from the meal.

As the day heated up, so did that old stove, and the big pressure canners or cold packers.

Jars were filled and capped, placed in the boiling water and timed for proper sealing.  The time for cooking varied, children went down for naps. Sometimes a sewing project helped while away the time.

Finally the jars were done, set out across the kitchen table to cool. Red tomatoes, green beans, tan shell beans, colorful fruits, pickles or soups… not there for long before going into the big closet lined with shelves for storage.

I still can, not on the former scale. The garden is not as big, and we do not rely on it for everything. Somehow, it seems like a lot more work than it used to. I have all the tools, a gas stove and air conditioning, but often I miss Granny, my sister-in law and her kids who shared the work and the bounty of food. Maybe it was  just more fun to stand over that wood stove, take a turn on the porch ‘to cool’, and have the companionship.

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