Rendered Fat Content


Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Summer, 1572
" … 'Vesting providence with our experience again."

Most of the growing year involves much waiting, culminating in a few shortening days 'Vesting: harvesting, preserving, labeling, and storing away for later use. There's no shortage of delightful fresh produce groaning shelves this season, the produce stand suddenly the most popular stop on everyone's rounds. Would that I could find this freshness year 'round, but I savor what I find when I find it. We neglected canning tomatoes last 'Vesting season, and lived to deeply regret that decision once sequestration stripped our larder shelves. For the first time in years and years, we reduced ourselves to buying factory canned, and regretted every second of the experience. We'd thought ourselves well-enough provisioned before our world sucked in on us. By then, it was way too late to rethink, and we sucked it up and tolerated the consequences. We'd foregone perhaps the single most solidly imprinting experience of the year last 'Vesting period. We'd been traveling when the tomatoes came in and recovering through the balance of the season. We missed that chance.

Now, we insist that this must never happen again.
We will be home each future 'Vesting season regardless any alluring reason to wander. We've each, in turn, gone solo for this operation, this lugging boxes, sorting, washing, blanching, peeling and coring, jar stuffing, and interminable waiting while the sealed quarts transform in their overlong water bath, but we'd much rather play our duet. A couple of decades practice, and we have our parts down pat. I sharpen the knives and roughly sort the boxes-full into single-tiered flats, dredge out the pots and racks, and get the water boiling. She selects the victims, starting small and working toward selecting ever larger fruit; the whole cheroot lighting cleanly and burning almost effortlessly. The peeling dredges up fond memories stretching back into the fifties for each of us, when we first watched the 'Vesting rituals unfolding, before we'd been invited to participate engaging in routine repetitive motions as old as civilization.

Our language shifts and words not usually heard within these walls start crossing our lips. Old Folk Language, we call it, and it erupts from us as effortlessly as the skin slips off a properly blanched Roma. The Muse calls 'em 'Matoes, as if they were old and dear intimates, which of course they are. She catches herself referring to the skins as 'jackets', a term I remember my great grandmother using. The old folks used a dialect they tried to teach out of me in elementary school, where the principal insisted that I sounded like I hailed from Missoura rather than from Walla Walla. My mother's family had passed through Missoura on their way west and the dialect stuck with them and their progeny up to and including me, though weeks of recidivist training led me to speak "right." But the arrival of 'Vesting time always brings that dialect back to mind and I catch myself saying Goozbury again. These words show up like old friends, warm-heartedly welcomed. The Muse reflects, as we lean over the double sink, peeling, that we're the old folks now.

I warmly recalled the low backache by experiencing it again while huddled over a sink tying into another from a seemingly infinite number of tomatoes needing peeling. I felt that gnawing insistence that I should probably quit, but refused to heed that call. I'd be damned if I'd slow until the last damned specimen had been properly peeled. I believe that I learned much of my resilience and my cussedness leaning over an overfull sink of something needing my attention. One never gives up on himself, not while there's an ounce of effort needing to be expended in the sublime service of 'Vesting.

The Muse has always been the expert. In my youth, the boys were supposed to be responsible for yard work and the girls, for anything even distantly labeled kitchen. I'd sneak in to lend my two left hands to my mother's effort to can beans, peaches, pears, and plums, but could only surreptitiously come into that space, at the possible price of being caught shirking my real duties. The Muse was a principle in these chores, though, and so she brings deeper experience and knowledge. I take my station and dedicate myself to what my experience prepared me for. I can reload the lid cooker, top off the boiling caldrons, and plunge the occasional colander filled with fresh ones into the blanching bath and fish out finished ones, and, of course, peel. I become a genuine peeling fool. That's enough.

Investments, held long enough, are said to vest, to turn into passive income, sometimes including significant matching funds. Sometimes, the waiting becomes intolerable and the stock's cashed in and the future foregone for a present. That moment of harvesting, whether sooner or later, always invokes the deep gratitude a seeming windfall brings. One cannot help feeling fortunate in that minute. The investments left to fully vest, though, bring a different and deeper satisfaction, for they carry the promise of sustaining far beyond present consumption, like what happens when filling up a larder with jars of home-canned tomatoes. We're insured against capricious supply chains for another year, secure as a direct result of a sweet sweaty summer afternoon resisting the urge to slack off before getting the job done. We created a testament to our heritage and to our future, 'Vesting providence with our experience again. Amen and then some!

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver