Tuesday, July 21, 2009


July spills a surfeit of vegetables onto my kitchen floor--
fire red tomatoes, golden squash,
green cucumbers and royal purple beans
tumble from white enamel washpans and broken oak baskets.
They glow like rampant jewels
retrieved from long-lost treasure chests buried in the garden loam.

It is mid-summer; the bounty is effortless and wanton.
I choose only the best to be preserved for winter use.
The imperfect offerings are tossed aside—
a scarred skin or a spot where a box turtle has nibbled a hole
is enough to send a tomato to the garbage bucket;
the chickens will enjoy a feast of discards.

In winter, the bruised tomato and spotted bean
would be carefully trimmed and the good parts
saved to be added to a simmering pot of hearty soup.
In winter, soup from even imperfect vegetables
recalls the freshness of summer.
In July it is the chickens who savor the leavings.

After the lavish destruction and careful preservation of the day
--cut, chop, boil, freeze, store--
I rock in my chair on the porch,
listen to the chickens' contented cackles,
survey the gardens and plan tomorrow's work.
The ruby sun filters through leaves
already suggesting the coming autumn gold.


Margaret LaVonne Hall said...

I'm gobsmacked at your talented writing, GSue...What a great read with my hazelnut coffee...

Granny Sue said...

Thank you, Margaret. The best part of writing is sharing it with readers who enjoy what I have to say.

Country Whispers said...

Very productive yet sounds so peaceful.
Your words and photos paint a great picture.

Cathy said...

What a pleasure to read this post and such a feast for the eyes! I made what Al called a good "country" dinner last night of green beans and new potatoes, corn, sliced tomatoes and chicken and dumplings. My Al was a happy man!

Anonymous said...

I love this so much I had to read it out loud. Thnak you.


Anonymous said...

I meant, "Thank You"!!!

Laura said...

I'm especially jealous of your canned tomatoes. That was a goal for me this year, unfortunately the tomatoes are having a rough go and we haven't even had one to eat yet. Oh well, the summer isn't over yet.
Your pictures make me want to come and sit and visit.

Granny Sue said...

All of you are the same type of women that I am--the kind that appreciated home, makes the most of what she has available, and understands the pure blessing of living in the country. All of you are welcome to come sit on my porch anytime.

Jai Joshi said...

I want to come and live in your kitchen. Yummy!


Laura said...

If you have time, I'd be interested in how you can the tomatoes. When my grandmother and I canned, we always seemed to end up with some space at the top of the jar, even after stuffing it with tomatoes. I'm wondering if it is from pressure-cooking too long?

Granny Sue said...

Hi Laura,

I don't pressure can my tomatoes. I use the water bath canner for tomatoes, apples, and peaches. Nowadays I know they recommend pressure canning for everything, but I've kept to the way I learned with good results.

I have read that the space at the top of jars canned in pressure canners is because of too-rapid heating that causes the liquid inside to boil over, and/or flucatuations in pressure during canning that causes the same thing. I wonder if you hot-pack instead of cold-pack the tomatoes, if that would reduce the problem?


oh, wow - bounty. Looks wonderful.

Susan at Stony River said...

Gorgeous photos and a wonderful garden! I'm sure you have plenty already but if you need more jars, I found a huge stack of Ball jars and jam jars in our basement, some still new in the shrink-wrap. I love gardening but I'm just not into canning and preserving anymore; the kids take up too much time.

Laura said...

Thanks--I'm afraid I may have to wait until next year as the tomatoes are having a rough go--I'll remember to try your suggestion.

Granny Sue said...

Susan, I can always use more jars! Save them for me.

Tomatoes are having a hard time this year, it seems, Laura. Mine are not the same as usual--they're hard and not as red as usual. It's weird. They can well but they are not the soft, luscious fruit of past years. Maybe it's just been too cool and rainy for them?

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