My mother-in-law, Helen, handed me an old canning jar during one of our trips to pick up more stuff for a garage sale we are preparing for. She said I might be able to sell it. Emily, standing on my other side, said, "Mom, that would look good in your kitchen". She knows me very well! It's now sitting in my kitchen window with it's glass lid clamped down tight and proudly displaying it's logo, "Ball". According to the Internet, it was made in the early 1930's.
I like how it looks, but even more, I like how it makes me feel when I look at it. This jar would have been in kitchens when my mom was a little girl. She would have watched and helped my grandmother and her sisters can all sorts of things in jars like this one.
I look at it and immediately smell dill or vinegar or tangy apple or sweet preserves. I see sunny windows in Aunt Ella's farm kitchen near Kingman, Kansas. This is the same kitchen my grandmother helped her mother in when she was growing up and my mom visited and cooked in during her childhood. Embroidered dishtowels hold clean jars ready for some yummy food that is being prepared by skilled hands. Steam is rolling above tall, well used pots on Aunt Ella's gas stove. There is talk and laughter as sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, cousins and granddaughters all find a way to be a part of the process of preserving fresh food and fond memories.
Without all of the sensory input of those days, the memory might be buried deep in my mind forever. There is no chance of that happening, considering the activity of the day.
One small object, like my canning jar, opens a portal into my past that allows me to experience again the love and rich heritage I share with so many special people.
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