FIRST THINGS


| February 2004



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Jason B. HarmonJason B. Harmon

The old canning jars were lined along the shelf in the root cellar, as if patiently waiting for foul weather to rob the land of fresh foods. Yet, those odd-sized containers with rusted lids were never used as planned.

Unfortunately, the fruits, vegetables and meats within those jars were too old to eat by the time my father and I got around to cleaning out my great-grandmother's belongings several years ago.

Frankie - as my great-grandmother was named when she was born in 1910 - was always an avid canner, like most country women, and left behind many unused jars of food when she died.

To me, those abandoned jars held more than mere food. As I gazed at the glass, I realized that each jar held memories of times that would never come again.

The canned apples reminded me about the fried apple pies Frankie made each Christmas. As a boy growing up in the modern world of fast food conveniences, I took the treats she made for granted. Little did I know at the time, but the foil-wrapped pies that filled a gift-wrapped shoebox were handcrafted expressions of caring, not just holiday goodies that left me with a stomach ache when I ate too many.

On another shelf, potatoes were slowing fading into unrecognizable mush inside an ornate Mason jar. Those uneaten vegetables could've been some of the same potatoes that I helped Frankie and my great-grandfather, Silby Gaylor, dig from the ground as a youth.