Bottled Memories

By Stephanie Eardley

April 3, 2017

Bottled Memories

Golden jars glisten. Forty-nine quarts of autumn ripeness and summer’s bronze made sweet by the kiss of blizzards to come. Like a mother waiting for the reassuring cry of her newborn, I pine for the pop of jars sealing. Like apples to apple pie filling I have gone from intimidated tomboy to homemaker.

As apples fill jars, I feel I am walking in my mother and grandmother’s footsteps. A matriarchal dance that I finally found the courage to attempt. Following the steps by instruction, but also by smell and sound.

A cloud of cinnamon swathes the crevices of cabinets and consciousness, baptizing my new home and life. I smell my childhood in the air -- my cousins and I slurping spiced air as our mothers and grandmother peeled and prepared the jars. Grandma’s fireplace at Christmas, being told I was bought from the gypsies, warm laughter and wet willies and 90s sweaters.

My toddler tumbles behind me, trying to learn the steps. He eats bits of apple and licks cooled down syrup, a taste that links us as family. On each jar I write the year and conditions on using the contents: During a Blizzard, To Accompany a Victorian Novel, A Discovery, When the Call of the Red-winged Blackbird Returns.

Kitchen clean, my son pushes a chair to the countertop. We begin mixing oats, brown sugar, and butter. A crust prepared, I grab a jar labeled, After Achieving a Dream, and listen to the familiar slurping of filling to pan.

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