Yesterday, I was walking with Sara through the shopping center, looking for knitting needles and suitable wool. I want to refresh my memory of how to knit. A perfect hobby for the upcoming cold days.
The store has everything, even “home made” food. Sara grabs a small jar of jam at the checkout and shows it to me.
And I automatically respond that I don’t buy jam because to me, jam is synonymous with food that we always have at home, which is really made at home.
I grew up with the smell of cooked jam. The sound of “boiling” jars that are disinfected at high temperatures in the oven to be ready to receive that family nectar.
When I say jam, I see my grandfather sitting in the garage next to the wood stove for hours, stirring the precious substance so that it doesn’t burn, with such dedication as if the entire winter diet of a six-member family depends on those circular movements distributed in precisely calculated intervals.
The smell of cooked plums and apricots mixes with the smell of rain, which is always present when jam is made.
I hear my grandmother’s voice, who occasionally comes down to check the whole process and try “if it needs more sugar,” and usually, we, the children, also participate in making such an important decision. But grandmother is the last, because she is an expert in cooking jam, and by God, in sweet things too.
When the verdict is reached that the cooking is done, the huge pot, which serves only for that purpose, is taken into the house, and then grandmother’s further specialty comes on the scene – filling the jars and hermetically sealing them, after which it never happened that they became moldy.
For us children, the harder part starts here – there is no more tasting in that “fresh” phase because there are still jars left from the previous year.
And during the winter, it’s well known – every time we ask “is there something for desert,” we automatically get the answer “the pantry is full of jam.”
Back then, as kids, we were angry about such answers. And now I would give anything just to hear those words once more.
A jar of jam is family.
A jar of jam is childhood.
A jar of jam are memories.
And no, you can’t buy them in a store.
This morning I woke up early, before everyone else, because my body doesn’t care that it’s Saturday and that I could sleep in.
Ready and eager for a new day.
I turn on the coffee maker.
I put bread in the toaster.
I take out butter and jam from the fridge.
Just like every morning.
While the coffee slowly cools in the cup, I spread butter on hot bread and without thinking, I open the jar.
I try to remember when it “arrived” and realize that maybe that jar of apricot jam is the last one my grandmother made.
And like a bolt of lightning, I realize that today is her birthday.
And I no longer have any jam.
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