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Preserving

31 Mar

Tomorrow is April 1st. As I write that I feel a frisson of excitement. April is National Poetry Month (in Canada, the U.S. and perhaps other places too). This April, as I’ve done during the last several Aprils, I’m planning to drop other projects and works-in-progress and concentrate on poetry. Yes!!

Last year I wrote a poem a day and posted those freshly written puppies here on the blog.

This year I’m planning to do something a little different. I’ll still be posting a poem a day but from my pantry or cold room, so to speak. I have written many poems over the years that I’ve never published or posted anywhere. This April I’m going give some of them their first outing. I may publish a poetry book review or two and some how-to pieces as well.

If I know the poem’s inspiration or prompt, I’ll post that. If you decide to use that prompt to write a poem of your own, you’re most welcome to type your poem into comments so we can all enjoy your take on the subject.

(I’ll still be writing a poem a day. But I won’t be going public with them while they’re still warm from the oven, at least not most days…I’m a slow writer–need time to rethink, revise, work out the kinks, etc.).

Wishing you a wonderful month of preserving.

harvest-14417_640

Image: Pixabay

Preserving

Near multitude of washed Gem jars
next to the stove with boiling pot
of glass tops, zinc and rubber rings
she stacks the beans to chop-chop-chop.

Stainless steel bowls of new-shelled peas
wait still and mute for boiling bath
three-minute scald then colander scoop
into cold water filled with cubes.

Skins of tomatoes, peaches, beets
slip easily after scalding soak
hands soon stained red, sticky with juice
of roundness slippery as wet soap.

Sliced cucumbers sit overnight
in salty brine before they take
their Million Dollar Pickle bath
tart vinegar, mustard, turmeric.

In steamy kitchen open-mouthed
boxes wait scoop of beans or peas
jars merrily clink in canning pot
our cold room soon is rainbow-raised

with rich wine beets and red chow-chow
yellow peaches, pickles green
a freezer piled with boxes neat
of carrots, broccoli, peas and beans.

I too gather from my life’s plot
dehydrate, freeze, pickle and can
sustenance for my winter’s days
preserve with paper and with pen.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Prompt or inspiration:

I wrote this poem in response to Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” considered one of the top 100 poems of all time. It was linked on Adele Kenny’s blog The Music In It, her post of April 2015 poetry prompts.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm. Two days ago her blog was 7 years old. On her blogaversary post, she shared her National Poetry Month inspirations for the last several years. I love the many ways and places that people find inspiration for writing!

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27 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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27 responses to “Preserving

  1. Brenda Davis Harsham

    March 31, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Love the ending. I remember canning — back breaking days of steam, scent, bubbling and bottling. The colorful shelves. The green beans were my favorite.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, Brenda! Growing up on a farm, canning / freezing season was always hot and busy (I must admit not always my favourite, though we were sure glad to have those goodies from the cold room through the winter). Do you still do canning?

      >

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      • Brenda Davis Harsham

        March 31, 2017 at 8:53 am

        I tightened a jar on some cinnamon stick just this morning! LOL Nope, no canning here. Bad back. No heavy lifting.

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  2. Kiesha Shepard

    March 31, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Oh, that last stanza is divine! I can’t wait for all the poems you will be cooking up this month!

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Thank you so much, Kiesha! It will be a fun month I’m sure. 🙂

      >

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  3. dorireads

    March 31, 2017 at 8:56 am

    At my house if was freezing. The only thing my mother canned was pickles, and she was famous for them. And that four to six weeks of picking, shelling, blanching, and packing was probably my least favorite season of the year. I tried canning tomatoes once, but it didn’t stick. I do love eating all those fresh veggies in the winter, though. I guess you can’t have one without the other. Nice work on the poem, especially that last quatrain. I suppose that’s my favorite kind of preserves.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Thanks, Doraine! I also had little appreciation for all the work my mom did in the garden and then getting the garden products ready for the winter months. Sometimes I wish I was back there as an adult to experience the seasonal cycles… until I recall the exhaustion and swollen feet got from working in the hot kitchen, even as a teen. A walk through the can and freezer sections of the store is much easier!

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  4. Karen Eastlund

    March 31, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Violet: Your poem brought back memories of making elderberry jelly (the BEST!), peaches, raspberry rhubarb jam, etc. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I did, and a connection with my mother and grandmother who canned more than I can imagine. I like your description of “rich wine beets” and your last verse… reminds me of a favorite picture book: Frederick by Leo Lionni. Cheers!

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you, Karen! You can make jelly out of elderberries? I did not know that. We have elderberries here in spring, though they may be a different kind. But I know the sense of accomplishment you’re talking about… those cupboards lined with plump luminous jars. I must refresh my memory of Frederick… the title is familiar but I don’t recall the story. Have a happy April!

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  5. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    March 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    What a perfect metaphor. I love the idea of you sharing poems from your pantry or cold room. Rarely am I happier than when making jam. So many good-hearted Poetry Wishes for you in this month ahead! xo

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Oh, thank you, Amy and for hosting today! I know your rainbow month will be terrific! (Maybe shades of a new book?)

      >

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  6. bjleepoet

    March 31, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Oooo, wonderful Violet! Reminiscent of my grandmother canning.Great ending!

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Thank you, B.J.! Yes, I think this is a memory of an earlier generation. The memories my kids have will not be of a mom that was as busy or consistent. For me it was stages and phases—the dehydrating phase, the jam-making phase, now mostly the store-bought phase (sigh). But they may have memories of me writing 🙂

      >

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  7. Bridget Magee

    March 31, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Delicious poem, Violet! I like your approach to NPM – I’ll be checking back to see what other delicious treats you will be serving. =)

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you, Bridget! Glad you approve of my approach. (It almost feels like cheating, not to be posting something daily fresh-written.) It’s certainly less stressful.

      >

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  8. Leigh Anne

    March 31, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    This poems makes me yearn for summer and all the freshness it brings. I love your idea for your poetry project, and I can’t wait to see what else you share with us.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you so much, Leigh Anne! You’re so welcome to come back.

      >

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  9. Jane the Raincity Librarian

    March 31, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Oh this is so exciting! I don’t think I’ll be able to post something every day, but I’ll certainly be able to follow along with everyone who is taking poetry month by storm this April! It’s a lovely idea to be giving some of your older poems their moment in the sun – looking back at older things you’ve written can be fascinating, you can really see how your style or tastes evolve over time!

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you, Jane! I’ve actually had a lot of fun digging into the archives already… and revisiting the spaces I was in when I wrote. (I love how you express it: “taking poetry month by storm”—you have a great way with words!)

      >

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  10. lindabaie

    March 31, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    “Gathering from my life’s plot” is a grand turning from the sweat and toil of canning. I’ve never done it myself, but helped everyone else. A favorite part of my “plot” was going to my grandmother’s root cellar to see all the jewels down there. I wish I had a photo, only in my mind’s eye. I’ll look for your ‘cold storage’ Violet.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      March 31, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks, Linda! “… see all the jewels down there” — what a lovely way to say it! After all the work, those glowing jars are like jewels; almost too precious to eat.

      >

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  11. Linda Mitchell

    April 1, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Violet this poem is just wonderful! The idea of saving for the future….home grown vegetables AND words. I adore your Poems from the Pantry idea. I think you have a nice idea for a collection. There is so much poetry in growing things. “I gather from my life’s plot” that’s just multilayer briallant there.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 1, 2017 at 5:42 am

      Thanks so much, Linda! Isn’t that what poem-making is about… saving these bits and pieces of life to savour again? It’s a way of preserving.

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  12. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff)

    April 1, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Your poem makes me ready for the summer harvest that overtakes my kitchen. And I love the ending that takes it to life and pen and paper.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks, so much, Kay! If you take the time to read the prompt poem, you’ll see where that inspiration (of making it a metaphor of writing) came from, only Seamus Heaney does it way better.

      >

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  13. maryleehahn

    April 2, 2017 at 10:23 am

    You have Gem jars, we have Ball jars. Mom made pickles (won prizes at the county fair), I’ve had my best success with peach chutney.

    The urge to preserve is strong. It’s survival at its best, whether in jar or on paper.

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    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Thanks, Mary Lee! Yes, the urge to preserve must be one of our basic instincts. Glad you’re still doing it. Peach chutney sounds wonderful.

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