Yesterday was my second (ever) attempt at canning tomatoes. The first was less than fully successful, two of the six jars failing to seal. That was in part the result of my not using the proper materials, namely, new caps. I had wanted to buy a set of new jars, but I was down to my last $14. I didn't want to spend $10 at once, when $14 might mean three or four visits to a wi-fi coffee shop. I did the canning at my sister's house. She had jars, and caps. It was only after I blanched and pealed the tomatoes that I realized the caps she gave me were used. I tried them, only to find the next morning that half the jars failed to seal. I bought new caps and re-attempted the process. One more jar sealed.
I had about as many tomatoes for the second round as the first, enough to fill two quart jars and four pints. This time I called a friend. He picked up my tomatoes, my laundry and myself in his near fully-automated mini-van, traveling by fossil fuels to his house about five miles away. He showed me around the house, the sound system of which is programmable from anywhere in the house, from either family vehicle, or from any of the family phones. Two years ago I was working at the world headquarters of the worlds largest electronic retailer. I've been out of the techno loop since. The tour of his house felt like a warp through two or three decades. I could write about the technology in greater detail, but by the time you read this my friend's system will probably be obsolete.
We canned the tomatoes on his driveway, while drinking Trappist beer from Belgium, speculating as to whether or not the Trappists are prone to chattiness once drunk on this spectacular substance.
Once canned (the tomatoes, not myself or my friend), I gave both quarts and all four pints to my friend, because he has a beautiful wife and two beautiful little girls. He and his wife objected, but I have on loan from them an ipod. I secured an agreement for another meal at some point in the not-so-distant future. The kids played in a small rubber pool while we adults ate grass fed burgers, and steamed veggies from my garden and Harmony CSA. After dinner I took video of parents and children playing in the pool.
The kids in bed, we ate homemade peach cobbler with a side wisp of port. My friend graciously opened a 12 year scotch, and the three of us sat on the porch contemplating the effect of sky gods on the culture, after which they asked about my love life. I answered.
My friend brought me home. In my driveway we had a long talk about awakening from the prism of our parent's perspectives. I assured my friend that he has broken through, that he is an excellent father, partner and friend. I didn't say there are so many more layers, culturally ingrained, deeply and unknowingly held attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that keep us from knowing who we truly are. A life long study.
We did both agree, there is nothing difficult about joy. The simple joy of playing with a child, of friendship, canning tomatoes on the driveway, drinking Trappist beer and 12 year scotch, for instance. The difficulty comes in opening to the possibility.