Story telling from Australia
We’ve been making jam.
We made the papers too, as you can see.
What smiling happy faces. How proud we all look! A small group of us from the Sydney City Branch of the Country Women’s Association produced almost two thousand jars of jam for the Christmas markets – all of it bottled, labelled and ready to be sold for charity.
And I guarantee that some of us – no, all of us – looked like this at times.
We all faced moments when things didn’t go to plan. My own low point came when a batch of ‘Taste of Christmas’ pumpkin jam got rejected.
We sat in the labelling room last month, tasting early batches of jam to make sure they were up to standard. We held jars up to the light to make sure they were correctly filled; we cleaned and wiped them to ensure there was no spillage – drips can spoil and turn the outside of the jar mouldy – and we turned jars upside down to check for consistency.
‘This one’s runny.’
I watched liquid trickle inside a jar of pumpkin jam – my pumpkin jam – and my heart beat a little faster.
‘And this one.’
‘Yep, this one too.’
Damn it! There was no denying it was runny, and I knew it too. Even as I’d bottled that particular batch I knew it didn’t look thick enough but it was late, I was tired and I’d done exactly as the recipe said so it should have worked. Only it didn’t.
An entire batch of pumpkin jam was set aside and I heaved the carton back into the boot of the car, feeling deflated and dejected. Rejected! No one likes rejection.
Rejection hurts. Facing the truth hurts.
But guess what? Being left out hurts even more. I wanted to be on that stall with the rest of the CWA ‘jammers’ holding my head high, so I went home and I emptied all the jars. I cleaned and sterilized them and I poured boiling water on the lids. I set my beaten old jam pan on the stove and I got to work, improving on the substandard product I never should have submitted in the first place.
And thank goodness someone pulled me up on that less than perfect batch of jam, because at the Christmas markets yesterday – in spite of teeming rain – people bought up big, knowing they could trust the CWA to produce a quality product.
I bought up big myself too, eager to sample jams, chutneys, pickles and relishes made by Jess, Steph, Sil, Alix, Kat, Gabrielle, Merna, Cheryl, Liz, Jodi and Jessica.
And instead of trying to hide when someone reached for a jar of ‘Taste of Christmas’ I smiled and said, ‘I think you’ll enjoy that.’