Monday, June 30, 2008

Quick Berry, Quack Berry

It is one thing to write about a social green movement. It is quite another, though, to invite eight women into your home to make blackberry jam.

The latter is like reading the book Jamberry to your kids. You pick it up at the library because the bear is cute or you like berries or your little guy likes the colors. You take it home and read it to your kids because you are a good mom. You start reading and, suddenly, you are sucked in. It has nothing to do with how important it is to read to your children or that you are spending "quality time" together. It has everything to do with the rollicking adventure that is the book. The rhythm of the words as they flow over your tongue, the antics of the bear and boy buried neck-high in various berries, the illustrations of waffle flowers and skating elephants. Pretty soon, you find yourself chirpping the words to yourself, to your husband across the dinner table, with a grin plastered across your face. Reading Jamberry feels great.

And so does making jam with friends. It has nothing to do with "being green." Every woman who came cared passionately about the state of the environment. There was some discussion about living lighter, tips traded on pinching back herbs or comparing tomato plants, ideas for planting fruit trees and biking to town. There was a lot more though. We talked about schools, husbands, balancing work and family, activities to do with our kids - all between spoonfuls of blackberry jam. We took turns washing jars, stirring, crushing berries and made something everyone on this planet is looking for: a connection. We'll savor that every time we open a jar of Book Club Blackberry Jam.

Buried in berries,
What a jam jamboree.

18 comments:

Tameson O'Brien said...

The doctors offices in NH give books away for every office visit, and they give books in the take home bag that they give to newborns (along with disposable diaper and formula samples but you can't have everything). When I took Quinnie home from the hospital the book that was in her bag was Jamberry. I love this book too.

Quick berry, Quack berry, pick me a Blackberry!

Heather @ SGF said...

Fun! I love making jam with others - the way it was meant to be. It's just not the same when you're by yourself...

eco 'burban mom said...

Oh, where's my spoon??? Blackberry jam is literally my favorite of all time. Ask my boys, they all know which jar of jam in the fridge belongs to MOMMY.

What a wonderful afternoon, it sounds as if it was as good for the tummy as it was for the soul!

Wendy said...

Sounds amazing! I'd love to have a "jam" session with some of my women friends, except that my kitchen is just too small. Instead, I invite them over to sample my "creations" and bask in the glow of their compliments ;).

Nah! Having them share in the experience of creating the jam still sounds like more fun ;).

Lori in Webster Groves said...

Wow, I haven't "jammed" since we helped mom make freezer jam when we were kids. It sounds like you had loads of fun!

It almost makes me wish I had a blackberry bush in my backyard... but as I recall from my years in Seattle, it's much better to pick blackberries from someone else's property and save yourself the hassle of trying to hem in their ferocious canes.

arduous said...

Aw, man. Blackberry jam sounds goooooooooooooooood.

Green Bean said...

Tameson: Train berry, track berry, clickedy clack berry. ;-) Isn't it a great book.

Heather: You are so right! This is the first time I've ever made jam with friends (I know you've done it often) and it is exactly how it is meant to be done. Isn't that how our grandmothers and great grandmothers did it? It is not a chore but a connection.

EcoBurbs: Where IS your spoon!?! And is there anything better to satisfies stomach and soul?

Wendy: My kitchen is small too! Our house is only 150 or so feet bigger than yours. The cozy atmosphere just made conversation flow all the more as we stumbled over each other. It was super fun.

Lori: My mom also made blackberry jam when I was a kid. We had the bushes on our property then but it was so long ago, I can't remember what they were like. That said, we took the easy way out and bought a couple flats at the farmers' market. :)

Arduous: Next time, you need to drive up instead of fly or see me when you first get to your mom's house so I can give you some jam. You can't take it home on the plane because it's a "liquid." And, yo, it is GOOD!

Melinda said...

Berries are just coming into season here, and I can't WAIT to make jam!! We plan on going to upick them at some local farms a few miles away. I may just invite a few of our friends who have never made jam before - it might be just the trick to show them what a good life we lead, living simply...

arduous said...

Heh. I'm actually hitching a ride up to the Bay Area this weekend. But my entire family (mom, sister, uncle, aunt, cousins) are going to be in town for the 4th, so it will be enforced Family Fun Time the whole weekend long! So sadly no time to visit you and get some jam.

Green Bean said...

Ah well! I won't be here anyway. But I'll think of you as I eat blackberry jam on my toast. And straight out of the jar. How's that for next best thing?

Jennifer said...

What a fun time! I would love to get together with people to make jam or some other food... I'll have to find some! (Current friends being uninterested in cooking...)

kendra said...

That is my son's favorite book. In fact we had his whole 3 year old birthday party themed around that book last year. He's such a big fan of picking berries. We always say when we see a bridge, "Under the bridge and over the dam, looking for berries, berries for jam."

Donna said...

I just put in a request for Jamberry at our library. I've never heard of it before but it sounds like something Andrew would LOVE! Just last weekend I overheard him telling his aunt, very seriously, that blackberries wouldn't be ripe until August. Like he knows what "August" is. :)

Glad you had so much fun!

Green Bean said...

Jennifer: They are easier to find than you might think. I'm surprised by how interest is growing in canning and jam making. And, of course, once you try homemade there really is no going back.

Kendra: What a cute party theme. I wish I'd thought of that.

Donna: I predict he'll love it! It's such a fun book.

Joan said...

I made jam today on my own and could have used some help since I haven't made it in many years. But, I was just doing two small batches - one of rapsberry straight from the back yeard - and one of strawberry from Mt. Hood area. I do have plans to do some canning later in the summer with some friends. Your description of the joy of having company for the task is very motivating.

Donna said...

I picked up the book at the library today and it's darling! Especially the pictures!

Off topic, but I tried to email you a couple times this evening and it got returned to me saying that it failed because your mailbox is full.

Green Bean said...

Joan: Oh, I'd love to have enough backyard berries to can. I'm working toward that. I hope you have as much fun jamming with your friends as I had with mine.

Donna: So glad you like the book. Not sure what is up with my email - I think it's a comcast thing. If you need to reach me, you can try greenbeandreams(at)gmail(dot)com. I can check that separately. I've been having email trouble on and off the last couple of months.

kale for sale said...

I have memories of my great grandmother, grandmother and aunt making blackberry jam after a morning spent picking the berries. Now I can't wait to do it myself.

Thanks for sharing your jam party and the book.

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