It’s the end of August. Yes, it’s a little early still, but this year’s fruit came on early so you have to respond. Yesterday Karisse and I put up 34 quarts of various and sundry fruit products. We how have grape juice, pears, peaches and pickled peaches up in jars for the future. We fell into bed exhausted but with a deep sense of satisfaction. I woke up this morning wondering where that sense of satisfaction came from.
When we grew up, each of us in tropical realms our parents didn’t can—or if they did it was entirely at odds with what local people did. In the tropics, there is always something to eat. You could always fish or hunt. You could always plant something in the garden and harvest it when it got ripe. There was always some sort of wild fruit available somewhere. In more temperate climes it’s not always that way. Preparing for the cold, dark winter was survival. Karisse spent many of her teen years in northern Indiana where winters are cold enough that canning makes some sense. The smell of the grapes took her back to her childhood instantly. For her family canning is high on the valued activities list. It was much less for me, yet even I have this visceral sense of satisfaction and security seeing those lines of jars.
We’re both of northern European stock. Is there something the body remembers from the bodies it has come from over the millennia? I remember well the sense of “home” I feel when high in the Andes of Ecuador, well above the tree-line. It looks surprisingly like the mountains of northern Ireland and the heathlands of Scotland. When I first set foot on European soil I had an uncanny sense of my feet melding into the ground. My people were native here, and my soles knew it somehow.
What other memories do we have? Some say we have a primordial memory of heaven. They claim there is a compass in our innermost souls that points to that which is good, wholesome, healthy and loving. We bury the memory under a hundred more immediate concerns, and we twist it with short-term-gain goals that fail to live up to that memory, yet deep within this essential orientation persists. Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls it being born for good. I think the book of Genesis names it when in the creation poem God pronounced the creation “good.”
Human memory is long, deep and wide. We cut ourselves off from something essential to our humanity when we forget.