Conservation

Mmm. I had my birthday last week. I love my birthday. Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so. I think it’s a pretty nice day. I like having a June birthday, being a Gemini, having my birthday fall on a minor holiday, and I firmly believe that each person should celebrate his/her birthday with as much joy as possible–not necessarily fanfare if that is not your deal, but joy, because it is the one day on which you came into the world, with all your possibilities, all your flaws and gorgeous individualities, all your you-ness, and why not celebrate it? It’s the one day on which we can say, “Hey, let’s all celebrate ME!” and not be looked at funny. Much.

So I did. Flag Day rolled around and I turned 35. I don’t mind saying that I don’t really mind aging. So far. I mean, I dislike some of the byproducts of growing old(er) (as many of us do), but the actual number? Not so big a deal. I have had this weird feeling that 35 is a turning point, a hump number so to speak, though I’m not sure of what. Do I think I’ll die at 70? No, not really. Women in my family (generally speaking) live to be pretty hale and long-lived–my grandma is one of 12 kids and all of the girls lived into their 80s and well beyond. We’re too ornery to die, perhaps. Or perhaps they all had good hobbies. I like to think I’ve got the hobby thing down. So that hump feeling? Just weird, I guess. I don’t feel grown up. I just feel… not 34? In a kind of liberated way. Though Kharold says I need to get a move on learning my next 2.5 languages (knowing 1.5 languages is pretty substandard in this day) and I am reminded daily to take my liquid calcium supplement every day before bed, because calcium absorbs best at night and I am no longer depositing calcium in the old bone bank.

In any case, I celebrated in one of the usual ways, a lunch out with many of my dearest friends at the traditional restaurant, Spices in Del Mar. And among other lovely, thoughtful things, two friends gifted me with a large basket of homemade zucchini and sweet potato bread and pounds (plural!) of ferally scavenged apricots. Mmm. Feral apricots. The bread was wonderful–we shared it round–but the apricots! I really enjoy a good apricot, running its soft skin over the Boy’s cheek to his delight, smelling them, hefting the basket in appreciation. (These, as they ripened, smelled like sunshine and clean babies and honey. Ahhh.) And making conserve!

Apricot-Orange Conserve 2007

Conserve, according to the Epicurious food dictionary, is “A mixture of fruits, nuts and sugar, cooked together until thick, often used to spread on biscuits, crumpets and so on.” That’s what I’ve got. Apricot-orange conserve with walnuts. Canned in clear jars with actual canning equipment so that in theory, they can be kept for up to a year. I know, I know, people do this all the time. But I don’t. To me it is a kind of alchemy–the huge black speckled pot boiling and belching steam, slowly lowering the sterilized jars, filled with glistening amber, down into the dragon’s maw, bringing them out later as bastions standing against the onslaught of bacteria, as though changed into non-biological entities, artifacts of alien manufacture gleaming in rays of sunlight. I’ve never done it before. Having watched my husband put up a few jars of plum jam last year, I only knew it could be done and that we had the equipment.

I was gratified to be able to hand the generous giftors a jar tonight, a week later. Unfortunately, one thing I have learned is that it takes a heck of a lot of fruit and a huge amount of sugar to make jam/preserve/conserve–it boils down quite a bit. I had not known how much fruit was in my fruit spread! So tomorrow I make marmalade. It’s a wholly new process taking two days and involving cheesecloth. I am intimidated but resolute. I will attempt, broken camera notwithstanding, to find a way to take pictures. And perhaps to make something edible as well.

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