Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tomatoes and Fears

Tomato canning day, here at our little house, and due to our house being so little, my MIL and I joined forces and did the job in their basement canning kitchen. Seventeen sparkling quarts of alternating red and yellow tomatoes, lined up in my pantry. Winking merrily and promising untold treasures of chili, soup, and sauces.

I really enjoy canning with my MIL. Aside from the fact that the work goes much faster with two sets of hands and two tongues wagging, I also get a chance to take a peek at my husband from her point of view. I can honestly say that I like spending time with her, and when it comes to canning, she definitely knows the way to go!

My PIL have a cozy little kitchen in their basement that they use just for canning. Their house had originally had a business in the basement, so the
whole bottom of the house is fully equipped with all of the creature comforts, circa 1954. They do A LOT of preserving and have everything set up so efficiently that it is a dream to work there. You feel like you could tackle even the messiest job alone! The only downside is the fact that I have to walk past The Crow to get there.

My FIL is a hunter and marksman, He has been since boyhood, and his gun office is also in the basement. Outside the door is the bird who has haunted my dreams since the early days of my marriage. A stuffed albino crow, mounted very realistically on a log. It stands there, head cocked, sleek white feathers gleaming, fixing you with it's pink-eyed stare. Crows are very large birds, when encountered face to face, and this strange specimen is no exception. His pointed beak and forbidding presence make it easy to see why some might think that crows are the transporters of the souls of the dead.

I don't remember the details of the story, other than the fact that the bird died, either as my FIL's pet or a surprise find while out hunting squirrel one day as a boy. Nick (my FIL) was so taken by the bird, that he had it stuffed and mounted to be able to enjoy it's beauty always. I met it in the first week of my marriage, as I was moving my things into my PIL's home. My hubby and I (due to various reasons, including eloping six months early) stayed with them until things were finalized on our house, and our room was just down the hall from The Crow.

I'm not sure why the bird bothers me so much, but I find it very unsettling. I swear that I often can see it moving out of the corner of my eye! My imagination has been fueled by too many spooky novels and scary stories and I had no problem imagining that strange bird hopping down the hall to our room, white feathers glowing in the darkness, and perching itself on our footboard, a la Poe's "Raven". "Awk! Nevermore!"

It's very funny to my hubby and FIL. They tease me mercilessly about "The Crow". In fact, during the early years of our marriage, I could rely on turning this or that corner and finding the thing lying in wait with one or the other of them, to see if they could get a rise out of me. They are quite the comedians. My daughter seems to love the bird and thinks that it is a great playmate!

Ahh, the things that one must go through for delicious canned tomatoes!

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