by Heidi Kauffman

We have what we seek. 
It is there all the time and if we give it time it will make itself known to us.~  Thomas Merton

 

In the bleakness of February

I recall from the cellar

A single jar of summer sauerkraut,

glowing gently as rays of sunlight pass through it,

a luminescent reminder of June’s abundance.

 

This year we used Andrea’s recipe.

The one her family perfected

in the sweltering summer kitchens of Salt Gun Holler,

several generations before there were even thoughts of her.

There they shredded cabbage to paper thinness

on the gleaming blades of their ancestral krautbox,

pummeled cabbage into sterile jars,

and adjusted the ratio of salt to water

until the brine was as a precise science.

 

I taste a bit of the tangy brassica.

My mouth and rumbling stomach are sated

as the plump leaves slip over my tongue

and burst in sour jubilation under my teeth.

I chuckle as I remember making this batch

with the kids from Christ Church.

The girls pretending to squirm as we picked

cabbageworms off the leaves,

and plotting practical jokes with our friend Cameron

as we maneuvered our knives

through the small mountains

of nodding cabbage heads before us.

 

There was such satisfaction

in seeing all those jars lined up and

gleaming in the sunlight,

in tending to them nightly with Dan (my loving husband),

skimming the layer of scum off their tops

and in pouring in more brine 

when the cabbage was especially thirsty.

We watched with vigilance

as the fine green shreds succame to time and became kraut.

 

 The bounty of February greets me from her barren fields, her laden table.

These jars are so full.

Heidi Bender Kauffman leads the food preservation efforts at the Good Earth Farm, where she lives with her husband Dan. Heidi is also an artist. To see her work online check out http://www.heidibender.net

 

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