Water Bath Canner

Several years ago, I found myself inexplicably drawn to canning, despite never canning, perhaps because of an unknown thread between my grandma and myself, a thread now materialized through her gift of her water bath canner.


Before I left South Dakota,

Grammy lead me to the basement,

into the laundry room with shelves

of holiday glassware,

assorted kitchen gadgets,

stacked cans of green beans and corn,

and placed in my hands, her water bath canner,

an inky, midnight-blue pot

with white speckles like constellations.

It jostled and rattled in the backseat

on the bumpy roads to Michigan.

How will you ever find time to can in grad school

people asked.


Isn’t canning a little old-fashioned.

people insinuated.


Aren’t you worried about botulism.

people supposed.


My Grammy preserved the produce

my Papa planted

and they had four kids and several jobs between them.


Rhubarb-strawberry jam,

where the rhubarb floated to

the top of the jars,

was my first.


Cherry-raspberry jam,

with cherries from forbidden trees

and on-sale raspberries,

was my second.


And so on it boiled.

asparagus, pickles, beets,

applesauce, cherries, peppers, tomatoes,

blueberries, peaches, apples, dandelions.

Every jar, a sugared gift from Grammy.


Jars pulled from the boiling water

in my kitchen, the descendants of the

jars pulled from the boiling water

in Grammy’s kitchen,

the bounty

shared and preserved.

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