This week, I'm turning my post format upside-down. Trust me. Fruit butter takes a long time to simmer, so we'll start with it first.
First, you get the Concord Grape Butter. I got the idea from Food In Jars' Instagram feed. These preserves taste and smell more like grapes than anything I've ever had. They are the grape soda (or gum) of your childhood, only way better.
Basically, we took all the grapes, washed them, cooked them on their stems until the fruit was soft, pulled out the stems (they were hot! and the juice stained my fingers for days! good thing I'm so selfless!), Wyatt put the grapes through the food mill to get rid of seeds and skins, and then I cooked down the puree until it was fruit butter consistency. I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar until it tasted right. We funneled the butter into jars and then processed the jars in the water bath. (The basic formula for fruit butter is here, and I've got plum butter simmering in the slow cooker as I type.)
Now that you know about grape butter (I mean, I had no idea, did you?), I feel like it's fair to share my recent thoughts on showing up in life.
I'm realizing that talking with Wyatt about race, justice, and fairness is, on one hand, completely necessary, and on the other hand, impossible for me to get right all the time. (And who doesn't like to get things right?) For example, last weekend, we were making dinner and Wyatt was, for the first time in his life, in charge of frying fritters. He was focused and attentive, and there was a lot of frying to do, so he was there for awhile. Over the sizzling pans and the whirring exhaust fan, we were discussing fairness and classmates being kind (or not so kind) at school, and I was trying to make the point that we (and he) should always be ready to help others. As I was saying something like, "...so Wyatt, if we see someone being hurt, or treated badly, it's our job to check in with the person so we can help them, stick up for them..." he cut me off and declared with a degree of solemnity I didn't know was possible, "Yes. I know. Stand up for them. And I could get killed for it."
Marc and I looked at each other, not sure how to react. I did a quick mental sift and suddenly realized Wyatt must have been referring to the (totally inspiring) profiles in Rad Women Worldwide where women had (1) stood up for their beliefs and (2) had been killed for it. Doing our best on-the-fly-repair-job, Marc and I went on to talk about how getting killed for your beliefs can be an outcome (I mean, obviously), but it's a very unusual outcome in our community. Most importantly, getting killed for standing up for his beliefs and for others is not a thing Wyatt needs to worry about, at all. I wonder how much of all this he grasped. Marc and I later agreed that we'd pay better attention to and talk with Wyatt about examples we noticed where we, or someone else, supported others in the course of everyday life.
But that wasn't the only misunderstanding that weekend. On Saturday, Wyatt was listening on the kitchen speakers to his beloved cassette where Diana Ross sings "Workin' Overtime." He asked, "Mom. Diana Ross has brown skin, right? Was she enslaved?" I said, "No, slavery was over before her time, but her..." He cut me off, "Her ancestors probably were enslaved?" "Yes," I said, "You've got it. Why do you ask?" He responded, "Well, because she's singing, 'I'm working ALL THE TIME.' So it made me think she was enslaved.'" Of course it did. Everything and everyone is impossibly old when you're six; 1863 was a long, long time ago, but so was 1989. I explained the words were actually "working overtime," and we discussed how that was different from "all the time," and from slavery.
And then this weekend? I got the awkward-over-thinker award. We were headed to a baseball game! I realized after we had invited Wyatt's big-kid-buddy from school to join us that we might be at the park in time for the national anthem, and since we'd have someone else's child with us, I had better find out where his family was on the anthem protest issue. So I texted his mom. I felt a super awkward, and in the end, we missed the anthem anyway.
What's my point? My point is that we have to actually show up in life. And part of showing up is feeling awkward (ugh), getting stuff wrong (which sucks), learning to do better (yay), and then showing up again, and again (no, it doesn't end). Humanity needs me, and it needs you. Just these last few weeks have shown this fact over and over again, from devastating hurricanes, to the United States' failure adequately to aid Puerto Rico, to the terrorism in Las Vegas, to the United States' continued preference for the Second Amendment over human lives.
Yes, it's a lot. And this week? I didn't feel like volunteering in the garden like Wyatt and I usually do. But as Wyatt said, "Of course I want to go. Why wouldn't we go?" So we showed up and did our work. As always, it was worth it.