Making Jam

It hasn't been the best of weeks around here. Most days the sky has been grey with smoke haze from the bushfires. The fires are not anywhere near where we live, but several smaller fires have joined together in the alpine country north east of Melbourne to form one huge fire with a fire front close to 120 kilometres long. It's constantly on the television, on the radio, in the papers.  You can smell it, and as you breathe in, it's hard not to be aware that you're inhaling small particles of what was once forest. My throat and eyes are sore. People are being advised to stay indoors. However, by far the worst thing is knowing that people and wildlife could be losing their homes or their lives as we go about our ordinary business here in the city. That people living in rural or semi rural areas will be constantly looking to the horizon for that first sign of smoke. Wondering if today is the day. Knowing that bushfires can take hold very suddenly, and become very fierce in a very short amount of time.  And this is only the beginning of a long, hot, dry summer.

Everybody is hoping and praying for rain. Decent widespread rain. Falling in the places that need it. Not just in the city and coastal areas.

I've been having strange apocalyptic dreams. I wake in fear, afraid to get out of bed and go out back to the toilet. And when I do, I startle the fruit bat who comes to eat the plums in the middle of the night. In my half dreaming state, the flapping of her wings sounds much more ominous than it is. So I'm not sleeping well, and I have Christmas organising to do, preparations to make, shopping, the Christmas tree to assemble and trees full of fruit ready to be made into jam. I am hovering on the edge of anxiety, alternating between bursts of frenetic activity and inability to do anything at all. Except fret and worry about it all. So today I wrote a big list. What gets done, gets done. What doesn't, doesn't.

The plum tree has ripened early this year. Normally I make jam after Christmas. We finished the last of the homemade jam from 2002 earlier this year, so I was very keen to make some this summer and have some to give away. Mum came over yesterday and gave me a hand. We chatted as we stoned the fruit and she held Grace, who watched fascinated, while it was boiling. A breeze sprang up and cleared the haze away. Anxiety about whether this was making the fires worse aside, it was very pleasant to see the sky. Needless to say, I am very proud of my deep red, glowing jam (recipe and pictures here). I had some this morning and it is a beautiful light red, and quite sour. I like it that way, but I think I'll make some more in a week or two when more of the fruit is ripe.

The theme for self portrait challenge this month is red. You can see lots of red, in all its beauty and glory, here.


shula said...

3 things we have in common:
1) lists
2) jam (preferably not too sweet)
3) more lists.
Comforting to know I'm not the only one. When I'm anxious I head for the list like a homing pigeon.
I've been having to make sweeter jam this season, which is a bit of a shame, but I have a number of recipients with extremely sweet teeth, and I am honour-bound to keep them happy.

suse said...

I assembled all the ingredients to make chutney today after we finished the last of our 2005 mango chutney last night at dinner.
I don't make jam often (I tend to overboil it so it sets like concrete) but I do like a good chutney session.

Inga said...

Very evocative photo! I'd like to be there in Australia eating some sour plum jam. . . My grandmother made strawberry and raspberry jam every year AND she had wonderful, line-dried sheets on her beds. I'd like to carry on both traditions, but there are only so many hours in my day, week, and month! I envy you. . . : )

karen -girlfriday said...

bush fires are scary. yummy jam ... I've been making lemon honey this year, but it doesn't really fit the red theme for self portrait.