what a year it has been! it’s finally gotten to the end, or at least the end of the season, and i’ve got enough time to get into digital media again, so here’s an update for 2013, so far, for everyone who is still out there listening. if you’ve emailed me to attempt mid-season mail-order in the past few months, look for a reply in the next week, and thanks (as always) for your patience and flexibility.
[editors note: i should interrupt myself here before i get derailed into weather and metaphor, with some business details; i'll be at the farmer's (holiday) market in charlottesville every saturday before christmas (final market is 12/21). i'm getting my mail order machinery together and think i'm at the point where i can post a final list of flavors, so here it is (all flavors are available until they are sold out, as usual):
blueberry + rhubarb,
peach blackberry + lemon,
blueberry + lemon,
pear + ginger,
strawberry + rhubarb,
raspberry + rhubarb,
blackberry + rhubarb,
strawberry + lavender,
strawberry + apricot,
to buy jam: it is $8/jar, or $7/jar when you buy a case of 12 jars in any flavors (for a total of $84).
it's easiest to get my jam at the farmers market in charlottesville, but if that's out of the question, i finally have enough time in the fall to start getting into mail order jam again. shipping is $15, handling is $5, so the grand total for one case by mail is $104. if you want one, email me your choice of flavors so i can set them aside for you, then mail me a check, made out to Daniel Perry to:
Daniel Perry, 1626 st anne's rd, charlottesville va, 22901
that's all the institutional stuff i needed to take care of, thank you for your patience, now on with it.]
as a preface, this was just such a weird year! wow! i’ve been making jam in charlottesville for the past 6 years, and i can say that this was the worst year i’ve seen for fruit, especially for the farmers. not to say that any of them complained; there’s a solid and unshakable stoicism that i’ve observed in the farmers around here, and it’s probably a characteristic of farmers everywhere who endure the many disappointments and minor defeats that nature dishes out to them on a regular basis. that seems like the name of the game with farming; the resilience to accept many non-ideal outcomes, and continue pushing forward with faith and confidence. well, that’s enough lionizing farmers, although they all deserve it, it’s time to talk about the weather.
it’s funny; i can tell it was a bad year for fruit because i couldn’t find as much fruit as i expected of the types that i really covet (black raspberries, apricots, damson plums, figs) and instead i got apologies from the farmers that they didn’t have as much for me as they’d had in recent years. it was also telling to see that the fruit that is always available and plentiful in this area (strawberries, peaches) was all kinds of whacky, there was too much fruit, at the wrong time, and with diminished shelf-life because of all the cold march & april, frost in late may, cool wet june and july, barely enough heat to ripen in august. everything was on schedule for 5 years ago, but every year since then was a little warmer than the year before, and we were almost 3 weeks ahead of 2008 in 2012, which made 2013 feel like it was 3 weeks behind.
the weather is really all that matters, i learned that a decade ago when i was a construction worker at the IX building in charlottesville. when you work outside, you lose your thick exoskeleton of walls & roof; shingles, boards, nails, paint, architecture and engineering all work to keep things orderly and peaceful. working construction, once a space is enclosed, it’s time for a subcontractor to come in and do finishing work, and the construction crew is off again to throw some more tarps over a drying concrete slab, doing daily battle with the sun, rain, heat, cold, wind, bugs, anything and everything that is excluded from habitable spaces almost by definition. it’s fun, it feels like camp, but you don’t get to leave.
i guess this construction analogy is serving a deeper metaphor of farming; once a space has been built enough to no longer be considered outdoors, once it deserves that a visitor shed their coat and muddy boots, construction workers depart; they put in the hard work in wildly variable conditions so that the rest of us can curl up warm in bed at night; they cultivate buildings in the fields of cities, so that we can then move in and cultivate our lives & families, and reap the bountiful harvest of love and memories. does the comparison work? construction workers are farmers, buildings are crops; we are all farmers, our lives are our crops; but really farmers are farmers and food is crops.
farmers are out in the sun and the rain (kind of like postmen, but thats a metaphor for another day) and the sleet and the hail (which is really bad for all kinds of produce, really bangs them up) working on building a beautiful empire for the rest of us; long lines of little palaces in green, or red, or any color, little apartment buildings filled with calories, and fiber, and protein, and minerals, for the rest of us to chew, swallow, and offer up to our own tiny universe of internal processes, for the multitude that is contained in our individual “i”, to occupy, consume, and discard, like a sped-up stop-motion film reel about the rise & fall of civilizations. the buildings are there, and a moment later it’s only the dusty plain, waiting for the next wave of life and growth. well, maybe the wheels fell of the wagon by the end of that metaphor, or maybe the blades of the blender got jammed mixing too many metaphors, but the point is, farming is hard, and it’s a heartbreak. at least in construction the buildings last a little longer than food does, and more people can enjoy them as a result. for farmers growing fresh produce for market, a walk-in cooler is essential, and maybe a refrigerated box truck too, because the produce is insanely perishable, for something that lives it’s whole life outside. i’ve got the best of both worlds, sealing fruit in little glass enclosures, universes of vermillion or indigo, fruit swirling in it’s own juices, safe enough to get through the winter. little castles, little palaces, little universes; don’t we all deserve to be the ruler of something? jam is such an easy pet to keep.
well, that might be enough for this week. thanks for tuning in. i’ll be at the farmers market for only 5 more saturdays this year, in the same old parking lot on water st in downtown charlottesville, from 8-1. i hope to see you there.