Preserving vegetables, finding new friends

There I was in the canning department of Walmart pondering over what the optimum size of mason jar would be to really get the most bang for my buck. Recently I’ve been exploring the art of canning. Yes I’ve become a canner (and I’m not referring to the dance). I’ve been canning peppers to make spicy pepper jam. I’ve been canning sunberries and rhubarb to make jellies. I’ve even tried my hand at pickles as of late.

There I was in the canning department of Walmart pondering over what the optimum size of mason jar would be to really get the most bang for my buck.

Recently I’ve been exploring the art of canning. Yes I’ve become a canner (and I’m not referring to the dance).

I’ve been canning peppers to make spicy pepper jam. I’ve been canning sunberries and rhubarb to make jellies. I’ve even tried my hand at pickles as of late.

But most of all I’ve been jarring up loads upon loads of salsa.

It all began with my planting far too many tomatoes last spring. I won’t get into the story now, but I can tell you one thing — getting overzealous with spring seedling will only result in an inglorious mess of vegetation come fall — like 400 pounds of vegetation!

So here I am with 400 pounds of tomatoes. I sure as hell can’t eat them all, so I have been forced to learn how to jar and process them. And hope to God my family and friends are good with gift baskets of preserves for Christmas presents.

Anyways, I didn’t come here to talk about canning, I swear. That’s actually just how my story begins.

Ahem, so there I was in the canning department of Walmart. I am carefully inspecting all of the options of jars when I hear Lars begin to yell in delight, “Mama, Mama, look it’s a boy from my class!”

I turn around to find another mom pushing two kids about the same age as Lars and Sophie in a shopping cart. She too is looking at canning supplies and I feel like for once since I began this insane journey into the preserves world I am not alone!

We introduce ourselves to each other right after she glances into my cart and makes a like comment about being surprised that someone else actually does canning, too.

We small talk about canning (what else?) for a while and eventually part our separate ways. For the next half an hour as I wander the store I kick myself for not setting up a play date with woman and her boys.

Because somewhere along the lines of life getting ‘asked out on a date’ started to mean a drastically different thing. No longer do I swoon over cute dudes on the beach. I now swoon when the rare opportunity comes along that I may actually have something in common with another mom and the scarce idea that ‘Oh my, maybe we can be mom-friends!’ surfaces in my mind.

There was once a time when my hands would get clammy over talking to a perspective date. I would stutter over my words while hopelessly eager that he would ask me out for coffee. In present days, I am lucky to say that my search for the perfect (well, almost perfect) man has been wrapped up and tied in a ship-shape bow.

But a search of a different kind has all too soon clamoured down upon me!

That is the ongoing pursuit for likeminded mom-friends. So when the occasion to meet someone comes along, you can imagine how I automatically revert back to the awkward, tongue twisted weirdo that I used to be when being placed into high pressured situations like dating.

I won’t lie to you and say I ended up shrugging it off, because really what can you do? I missed an opportunity but I’m sure another will come about soon.

No, I wasn’t that rational about it all.

I stewed in my own defeatism and brooded over whether or not I had just missed my opening to gain the best mom-friend in the history of mom-friends. I daydreamed of our children playing wistfully together as children sometimes do.

Her and I sharing canning anecdotes and frolicking around the kitchen with coffees in hand while, The Rain, The Park, and Other Things by the Cowsills plays gaily in the background.

It was a beautiful dream. But the dream slipped further and further away from me with each time I would run into her in the mass department store and only offer a friendly smile in her direction.

The fear of rejection had consumed me — I guess some things never change. I had to get over my self-absorption and fast. Because if I had learned one thing in kindergarten it was that ‘this’ was definitely not the way to make new friends.

I suppose I was not the only one thinking along these lines because the next thing I knew Lars piped up when once again we ran into our potential new friends and said, “Hey maybe you guys can come over for a play date sometime.”

And so you see, sometimes when you fear you may be teaching your kids terrible lessons in cowardice and timidity, really they are the ones to impart a hidden wisdom on you. It made me realize that if risks weren’t taken, so many delightful things would never come to fruition. Things such as canned salsa, new fashion trends, preposterously obscure Pinterest attempts and, of course, new friendships.

So go forth mothers of school age children and ask that mom-friend crush of yours over for a coffee date. I’m sure that in the end you won’t be disappointed.

Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.

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