My sister, Amie, and I were talking on the phone the other day, working out the logistics of getting her yearly order of blueberries delivered. I happened to mention that I was headed out to pick plums, and she wanted to know if there would be extras. It seems she had been looking for a plum supply for several years but couldn’t find any. I told her sure, I would get her some.
As it turned out, I would not be able to get to Shreveport before the plums went bad. Like a good sister, I called Amie and asked her if it would be okay if I went ahead and made the juice for her. That way, I could refrigerate it prior to delivery, and it wouldn’t go bad. Even if she had to put off making the jelly, it could easily go into the freezer until she was ready.
Saturday morning I got a text. ‘You sure know how to make my life easier!’, it read. Yes, Amie. I do. For those of you who aren’t canners, the prep is the majority of the work. You have to sort the plums – you want them from almost ripe to ripe. Some smaller bad spots can be removed, but too large a spot and those are the main dish at the Chicken Feast. From there, they have to be washed. With some fruits, like apples and pears, the next step would be peeling them. In the case of plums, I don’t. I simply cut completely around the plum, leaving the skin and seed intact. I toss them in a pot and get busy doing the next one. Over the course of three days, I have sorted, washed and juiced four batches of plums that easily filled up the sink with each batch. From there, you barely cover them with water, bring them to a light boil, then turn down the heat and let them simmer for a couple of hours. Turn off the fire, let them sit for a bit, then strain them through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large pot. This part can take as much as five or six hours.
A gallon + of juice made it to Amie’s refrigerator on Tuesday. Saturday, she whipped through 27 ½ pints of plum jelly by early morning. And then I got the next phone call. ‘Hey. I need 9-1/2 more cups. I have 1-1/2 cups left, and don’t want to waste it.’ No problem, Amie. I have almost 3 gallons of juice left.
It’s the little things like this that I enjoy doing to make my sister’s life easier. I especially relish the thought that my health-conscious, Registered Dietitian sister is playing with THAT much sugar (but don’t tell her I said that!). In all honesty, it’s the least I can do for her. Amie is what I call a Shadow. She is that person that sees a need, slips in when no one is watching, takes care of business, leaves, and no one is the wiser. She doesn’t want kudos. She just knows that someone is hurting, in need, going hungry, needs a coat or clothing, and she is going to see to it that they have what they need.
Yep. I am giving away her secret. So, if I can make her life a bit simpler, then I will be happy to dive into multiple bushels of plums to do just that. It is one of the small ways I can honor her, who she is, how she loves, and maybe. Just maybe. I can keep on her good side. I still have the bruises and dents in my head from when I got on her bad side as a kid.
Honoring someone doesn’t have to be with fanfare, balloons and confetti. We can honor those we love in simple ways. Run some errands for an elderly family member or neighbor, or just take them out to lunch every now and then. Clean your mom’s house. Mow your friend’s yard. Or do the prep work for some jam or jelly. Nothing says honor and love like making a loved one’s life a little easier.