My house smells of strawberries and suntan lotion. Our garden has the most beautiful, tiny tomatoes and peppers, promising deliciously silent lessons on the benefits of work and delayed reward. Our lettuce, kale and spinach plants are fantastic. Pumpkin and gourd vines are stretching towards the sun, reaching further into our tiny suburban plot of land each morning. Every day, adorned in my business clothes, I throw my briefcase in the car and take a walk around the house with the kids to survey our potential harvest before I drive off to work.
We spent the chilly morning hours of Saturday picking sugar peas and strawberries at an organic farm, then filled our kitchen with friends and fruit and made 17 jars of strawberry syrup for ice cream sundaes and 44 jars of jam. The second grader that lives inside my heart and wishes I was on the Oregon Trail (except for the dysentery, no one wants the dysentery) feels so at peace right now.
Like every little girl in the 80’s with a TV, I thought being a pioneer girl was the best, I knew Laura was the cooler sister and I knew that when I was a mom I could use Ma Ingles as inspiration. I wanted to be the mom who knew how to make cheese and jam, who cultured yeast in a jar for bread baking and had a spider pan. She could stop a wagon, look around and BAM, there was real food and merriment and music. When they settled down all it took was her little China Doll to be placed on a shelf for her to feel settled, perhaps a willow bough broom, and she would get to work making everything for her family.
Having my kids jump in to pick produce this weekend, having the eldest cut the strawberries around the table with the rest of us, watching the younger ones not really know what was going on but still want to taste test everything at every step of the way, it felt like I was honoring the eight-year-old me that always thought that doing things the hard way was far more fun than going to the grocery store.
I am always going to be the mom that has to go to the office 45 hours a week. I am always going to be the mom that has better intentions than I do actions – more plans than I do hours in the day. But some days, when my kitchen is filled with laughter, strawberries and covert lessons on taking the hard way to get better results, I feel like the other parts of me wash away and the mom that I want to be remembered as gets to take center stage for a few moments. I really like Saturdays in June.