Late summer is a time for making preserves and jams from the delightful fruits and berries that ripen. And making the most delicious puddings. This takes place in the kitchen, which is as we all know, traditionally the domain of women.
There is such wisdom in what takes place in the kitchen.
Fresh produce is alchemically transformed into cordial and jams that will last all winter.
I remember as a child being bowled over by the blackcurrant cordial that was being prepared. The smell and the colors are imprinted on my memory. To think that something that had been growing innocently in the garden could produce such a potent result.
Then there were the discarded berries – a steaming hot squeezed mass in their muslin cloth, they looked alien and strange. I was never quite sure whether they were dead or alive. The discarded berries would be put in the compost where they would decompose and help fertilize the plants for next year.
At a very young age I thus learned about the cycle of death and rebirth.
Looking at the women working in the kitchen was amazing. Being allowed to take part and help was magic, not only was I included but I also learned kitchen skills.
A cookery book can teach you how to make something, but it won’t teach you what it feels like. This embodied knowledge only comes with experience and with time. The other women around would guide me and give me of their experience, so that I gradually learned.
And while they worked, they talked.
It is now commonly accepted that women do much of the transmitting of culture in a society, and this often takes place while doing something else.
While showing me how to stir, I was also being taught how to carry myself. While how to separate the berries from their stalks I was also learning an entire value system. Herein lies the magic of women’s wisdom.
So much of what we know, of what we do, is verbal instead of written down.
Because so much of history has been written by men, they have simply not had access to women’s stories and our ways of doing something.
To complicate matters, women rarely sit down and do nothing, ready to talk with a historian or anthropologist. The result is that much of what women do is still mostly known by women. And because we multitask the way that we do, it may look like we’re only making jam. In reality, of course, we’re transmitting culture and instilling values into our children.
So with a newfound respect for women’s wisdom, let us ensure that the values we instil are positive.
Let us make sure we include everyone in our activities and that the thought patterns we transmit are positive, empowering and uplifting. Let us spend a late summer afternoon in the kitchen reflecting of the values we want to carry on and through the old and unwanted out with the discarded blackcurrants. Let’s share that love…