Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Memories-Pears and Bears


Today I’m canning pears and though canning is faster without little helper hands, it is much more difficult to get the pears to lie on their bellies in the jars without them. You can fit lots more pears in a jar if you stack them core-side down, so Cali would skinny her little fists into the jar and turn the pears over for me. When she outgrew the narrow jar necks then Ande took over. Abe and Ty carried buckets of peels and cores to the chickens.

As I stood at the sink this afternoon trying to flip a slippery pear over I wished for a little girl in pigtails with tiny hands sitting on the counter helping me. When the bucket was full I wished for a dusty little boy to dump the peels.

In the home where I grew up we had a “fruit room” where food stuffs were stored. I hated the job of retrieving a jar of pears or a can of green beans. Hated it. The fruit room was down 13 steps, past the pool table, beyond the fireplace, behind the furnace room and in the back corner of the basement. There were dozens of places for monsters or boogie men to hide between the kitchen and the fruit room—the bin heaped with black coal being the most likely place. But more than boogie men, more than monsters, I was afraid of bears in the basement. Bears that wore clothes and carried a fishing pole so that if I outran them they could cast their line and catch my lip with a fishing hook and reel me back in to them. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales were not safe in a mind like mine and one of the smartest things my parents did was carpet the stairs. Do you have any idea how many bottles were dropped and rolled back down them in my escapes?

Did you have a scary place in your house?
Are fairy tales safe in your head?
Do you eat canned pears (home bottled or boughten)?
(I was wondering today if very many people even eat them because I never see them in grocery carts.)

20 comments:

Jenny said...

I love when you post these memories. How cool to have learned such a task as a young child. The only one I recall is helping my grandmother kneed and roll out bread.

I have never tried canned pears (unless you count those canned ones in the store)

Julie said...

What a great memory! I love canned pears! We have even discovered "pear sauce". The cannery in Denver cans it and we love it. It's a little sweeter than applesauce but really good! It would save you flipping pear halves...something to think about. Although the little hands of someone in pigtails and your dusty boy are some of our favorite people!

Nicole said...

I love canned pears! I am terrified of falling through the floor in our storage room. The water pump is in a hole that is covered with some boards. It scares me to death to walk on those boards. So, the chore of taking the canned food into the store room is very tricky. I have to careful balance around the edges.

Kim Sue said...

bears dressed in clothes and carrying fishing poles...wow you had quite the imagination!

Em K DUB said...

Any place with a mirror at night! My eyes always played tricks on me!

And yes My mom cans Pears and Applesauce and esparagus! I love canned pears, homemade or store bought!

Alisa said...

Your thought of missing the pigtails put a lump in my throat. I feel the same way about my kids and they have not even left home! I just miss times together when school starts.
I love love pears. It is my favorite canned fruit. I have not done them myself though.
My mother in law still asks us to go get something from the "fruit room"- its fun to hear you use that term too.
I had never heard of it until I married into the family.

Amy said...

"fairy tales were not safe in a mind like mine"..I love that line, Jane. And the image of you cautiously making your way beyond all of the imagined dangers.

So poignant to think of all the memories you have associated with this homemaking task. And to consider that little grandbaby hands will be turning pears over for you ten years from now.

Anita said...

I did have a room like that - in my grandparents house where I spent a lot of time growing up. It was grandpa's room in the basement and we were told NEVER EVER to go in there. He had a barber chair in there and I was so afraid of that chair and what was hiding behind it!

Ah, the memories of a child! Thanks Jane for making us remember!

http://stampinwithanita.com/

Barb said...

I don't can pears, but if I did I would for sure be using my wide-mouth masons to get my hands down. I should maybe buy some canned pears at the grocery store, though, and try out the pear bread recipe that Ken speaks of from his childhood. I haven't had it from his mom in years, and actually I will probably have to phone her for the recipe because I'm sure I don't have it.
Have you ever made pear jam? Very mild, very good on whole wheat bread.

Mardis Family said...

We had a room like your fruit room, and I hated it too. I was afraid a killer would jump out and chase me down, stab me, then eat me. Also, hated the spiders. Bugs have always creeped me out and made me flip!
Love, love, LOVE canned pears. Whenever we have to refill our canned fruit supply, we always get canned pears and peaches. Yummy!

Susan said...

Jane, I've got some pigtails you can borrow anytime! Come and get her!

michelle said...

We love canned pears around here, but I've never canned them! Hmm, I do have a little girl in pigtails, too, so maybe I ought to give it a try...

I used to feel exactly the same way about the crawlspace in my grandparents' basement. I liked to play in the basement because it was full of so many interesting things, but I was convinced there were, at best, creepy crawly things in the crawlspace, if not the bogeyman himself! Love your walks down memory lane.

Lucy said...

We have a fruit room in my parent's house. Only, we converted it into a bedroom for my brother so one half of it is sheetrocked and half of it is carpeted and the other half has wooden shelves with all sorts of canned fruit. Plus, it's the laundry room too. Poor kid.

I actually love sleeping in there now, because there are no windows. Dark and quiet. I have chosen it as my kids room the past few times I've visited. Last time, Henry managed to get his troublesome paws on the jars of mustard pickles (nasty) and our days of sleeping in the fruit room are over.

HeatherM said...

Our fruit room is a root cellar, also 13 steps down - steep, wooden, open steps with spider webs. YUCK! It also houses the wood pellets and the switch for the well pump. I always have to decide how hungry, cold, or thirsty I am before I head down those stairs!

I'm told Darla cans the best pairs. I don't can them myself, and wouldn't have first-hand knowledge of Darla's. She hardly ever shares anything with me ;) Guess I'll keep buying Dole.

Darla said...

Janey Paney...
Aw the memories of me & my grandma.. I so miss her this time of year...

Yes, I can pears & you can bet that Heather will get some this year *lol*....

I'm always so excited when the canning season comes & so thankful when it's over...

Keep up the good work...

Hannah said...

Who knew a post about canning would leave me teary eyed? Yesterday I had little hands "helping" me put up peaches and I was using every once of patience I could muster- this post puts it all into perspective!

My parents still have a fruit room and technically I do too- but my husband never caught onto the title and just calls it our food room. I love canned pears~ but is that surprising at all :)

Ande Payne said...

Ohhhh that post made me wish I was sitting on your counter in pig tails. No actually it makes me wish I was sitting on your counter right now because if I had pigtalks that means I had yet to go through middle school...and who wants to do that even if they do get home canned fruit when they get home? Not me. I love you though. Oh and thinking of Abe and Ty little and dirty made me sad too.

Nikki said...

Oh my goodness what a wonderful post! I loved what you said about little helping hands. Gabbers has such tiny tiny hands. I can totally see her loving to help turn pears over. Today I opened a bottle of canned pears from my sister Leslie. I have never liked pears before today. They were so delicious. I intended on feeding the pears to the kids because they LOVE fruit. But after trying one, I ended up eating half the jar myself!

And the way you described the fruit room sounds just like my parent's food storage room before the basement was remodeled. I had to laugh out loud at the fisherman/bear part. What a precise fear! I was always afraid something evil was going to jump out and grab my throat. So I kept my chin down to my chest and eyes up and ran!

Marie said...

Wonderful! I love that you were afraid your basement was a hiding place for a den full of fantastical bears.

I bottled pears this week too, but how in the world are you doing that with your hand in there? I would be burning myself right and left on the sterilized jars!

Leslie said...

I have been up to my eyeballs in pears the last couple of days. I don't know why I felt 100+ pounds of pears seemed like such a good idea before Monday, ha ha. I've always enjoyed canned pears - though we only bought them sporadically through the years. But after I learned to can them last summer, they quickly became my very favorite home canned fruit (plus, they are so much tastier than store bought I think).