For the love of beans (and Grandma Peggy)

I am standing at the sink snapping and washing beans.  The rhythm of the activity feels good.  And I know the beans will taste good too.  Summer gardening is winding down and the kitchen is hot but the water is cool.  My mind drifts off and suddenly it is many years ago... 

 I am a young mom of a precious baby, born just weeks before, and I am again at the sink washing and snapping beans as my grandmother, Grandma Peggy, holds my tiny bundle of a girl. It is the end of August.   It is hot in my kitchen.  VERY hot.  We have no air conditioner, not even a portable one.  There may have been a cheap box fan at most.  No complaints from my Grandma.  She was there on a mission to 1) hold the baby, of course, and 2) teach this mama how to can beans.  A sacrifice of love to be sure.    

There were basic instructions and lots of encouragement being handed out as we both perspired through the late morning into early afternoon.  I was a bit nervous but she wisely allowed me to do it all by myself -  her cheering me on.  It was the best way to learn.  She knew I could do it on my own now.  That was the goal all along.  

Washing, snapping, stuffing, ladling.  Boiling of lids and jars.  Soon a countertop full of gleaming green jars.  And then, much later, the first ping of a sealed jar.  The most exciting part of the process!  

Later that winter we had the next best thing to fresh garden beans in our home canned ones.  A precious and healthy addition to many meals that year and years to come.  A craft passed on in love.

 Many years have passed since she rose to her Heavenly home.  I wonder now, did I feed her lunch that day?  Did I offer her enough fluids?  Did I send her home with enough beans for her and my Grandad to try?  Did she have to go home and lie down with a cold cloth on her face to recover from my hot kitchen?  Her nurturing ways have definitely stuck with me.    

My Grandma Peggy was a gift and she shared so much of herself with me through encouragement and teaching.  I have her wooden rolling pin and know how proud she would be that I still use it.  I also have the tin measuring cup that she used to fill with oyster crackers for my toddler self to snack on.  Now I do the same for our 2 year old granddaughter.  A tradition I relish.    

My Grandma was the queen of the yard sale and I am quite sure some of my canning jars were purchased as a result of that.  She also further encouraged my love of gardening and my hopefulness to conquer the kitchen by purchasing second hand garden guides and cookbooks for me and one of two on canning.  The best part:  She wrote little notes in them such as "save me some" next to casserole recipe, "yum" beside a lesson on jam or a simple "I love you, Grandma Peggy" inscription on the title page.  Each time I open one, her love lives on.


I have many precious memories of my Grandma Peggy and standing at the sink snapping and washing beans will always take me back...