Today is the first day of school here in Vermont. It’s the first day that my son went off on a huge school bus to Kindergarten. I’m not even going to write this post about school and how bittersweet I am feeling. It’s private and it’s our moment and I’m still dealing with it. And by “dealing” I mean I’m holding myself and rocking gently in the fetal position on the floor with a large cup of coffee all while catching up on Breaking Bad episodes.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’ve been known to do crazy things sometimes. Random, odd, out- of-character things that make for a great story. Like the time I was an actor in NYC and I “snuck” in to a casting call for a commercial. How I lied about having a legit agent, went in front of the camera for the audition and nailed it. I booked myself a national commercial for a very famous chocolate bar company and collected royalty checks for over a year. I even became a member of the elite Screen Actors Guild. Makes for a great story.
Now that I’m a mom, I’m less likely to break with tradition when it comes to taking chances and being silly. Although one could argue that flying in a hot air balloon (like I did last month) is a risky choice with two precious babies depending on me for everything.
Well, after a vacation on the west coast, I decided my life wasn’t complicated enough with just one baby whose sleep schedule was FUBAR’d and a five year old with no day camp to attend…so I decided to venture in to the world of canning. Nothing says homesteading like a little pickling. Our garden this year yielded a fabulous crop of cucumbers and one can only eat so many sliced cucumbers at the dinner table. I have very fond memories of both my grandmother and mother pickling and canning various fruits and vegetables. It’s in our blood. My blood runs pickle juice….errr….something like that. It sounded better in my head than it does on “paper.”
Anyway with a little research I found a pickle recipe and modified it to fit my own style. Whatever that means, but you get my drift, I hope. After canning 15 jars of pickles I was very proud of myself. I took a picture and sent it along to my mother for approval. Her response, “those pickles look so beautiful, you should enter them into the fair.” And enter them in to the Champlain Valley Fair I did.
I read and re-read the rules and instructions on entering products in to the canning and preserving contest as if I was studying for the SATs. Last Friday, two jars of pickles in hand, I dragged my little family to the fairgrounds to drop off my creation. The garden center (where the competitions take place) was abuzz with people all older than me dropping off various items. The man in front of me was carrying a tomato the size of my baby’s head. I kept thinking how good it (the tomato, not my baby’s head) would be with a little fresh mozzarella and basil. Why waste it at the fair!? Another silver fox of an old lady was proudly prodding her bouquet of fresh cut flowers. I eyed them enviously…clearly the Japanese beetles didn’t attack her crop like they looted my flower beds and fruit trees. After filling out some paperwork, I slowly walked my two jars over to the canning and preserving section, as if I were dropping them off to school for the first time. There were jars of all different sorts lining each shelf. Jellies, jams, relishes, salsas, and pickles, oh my. Be still my homesteading heart. I sized up the competition as I elbowed my way in to find shelf space. I made angry eyes at the little old lady rearranging her bread and butter pickles. “Watch out Grandma, there’s a new kid in town,” I growled under my breath.
Ok, totally kidding. I’m getting away from myself and the word count on this piece. Long story short…I entered my dill pickles in to the contest. There were no angry eyes nor elbow throwing, it was all very civil. And tame. All weekend long I waited with baited breath to see how my pickles did in the competition. I went to the fair on Monday evening to see how I “faired” (PUN INTENDED). And guess what? I won third place. Dwarfed next to the oversized blue ribbon on the winning jar was my beautiful jar of pickles, adorned with a shiny yellow third place ribbon. And guess what, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a whole two dollars for coming in third place. That should be enough to get me one coffee while I catch up on more episodes of Breaking Bad. And if not, it makes for a great story.