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If it’s for free, it’s for me – ‘have some grapes!’
EM_091720_Grape Juice
A HALF GALLON of grape juice concentrate resulted from Em's grape-grubbing ways. What will she make with it?

RISING SUN - It’s Tuesday midmorning and I’m trying to keep my kids occupied enough to sort and clean up some Concord grapes. 

A friend put out a call to take some off of her hands recently and being that my motto is ‘if it’s for free, it’s for me’ I couldn’t resist. 

My pantry of canned foods in the basement is nearly at max capacity. The shelves seem to quiver a bit with every additional jar. However, Chasca assures me it’s sturdy. 

When I got home after the grapes were deposited, Chasca looked at me with his all too familiar skeptical eyes.  

“Do you have a plan for these or did you just take them because they’re free?” he asked. 

“A little bit of both” I answered with a nod, hoping to ensure him I’d get to them before they rotted away on the counter. 

I, like everyone else, have gotten sucked up in the canning craze this year–although I had this plan before the pandemic. Our kids are a bit older now, making it easier to get the job done, and we were primed since early spring to fill some jars. 

Luckily, we still have jars to fill. I almost hesitate to write that because I feel like such a ‘have’ in a world of ‘have nots’ right now. All the years of buying extra and hoarding away empties really paid off this year. Because if you haven’t been to the store lately, the canning shelves are bare. Even the overpriced novelty jars that usually remain are GONE! Mason Jars are the new toilet paper. What a time to be alive, huh? 

I stopped at Alyce’s Acres yesterday to pick up some carrots and yet another mask to add to our collection. Alyce and I were chatting and chuckling about the situation. Then, she made a good point about the canning jar shortage.

“There are so many people looking all over the place for these jars and just think of all the little old ladies with the basements of their farm houses full of empty jars since they don’t can anymore!” Alyce said.

I told her I know of at least one friend who went and raided their grandparents' stash, tucked away long forgotten in a cellar at their farm. And that’s not even including myself who was gifted extras from a friend who gave up canning 15 years ago. 

Toilet paper and canning jars–all stuff we never thought we’d be scrapping over and begging for in these modern times. Just look at how life has changed. 

As we get closer to living in this pandemic for a whole year, it really continues to amaze me every single day. Things that seemed novel at one point in our lives are now a sense of security and control in such an uncertain time. 

It makes me wonder what will be the craze next? How will the holidays look? Will we share our new found bounty with the ones we love via packages and porch drops as we celebrate from afar? Will we break with our months-long traditions of distance to crack open a jar of salsa and share a table together? 

One thing I predict is more hunters this year. All of those folks who are qualified with their hunter safety, but never really picked up and went out I’m betting will take it on in 2020. We are currently in the beginning stages of the yearly deer hunt now with bow season underway. I’ll be interested to see the deer harvest numbers this fall. 

Hopefully, people who are successful enough to harvest more than they need will be able to participate in Wisconsin’s Donate-a-Deer program which helps put fresh venison on the tables of those who need it. 

Because if we’re going to take anything away from 2020, it should be that we’re all in this life together and taking opportunities to share our wealth is always a good thing.