Isabella could not wait for summer vacation. At four years old, she loved the warm days of summer and catching fireflies in the evening after dark. She loved going to the beach with her family: swimming, building sand castles, and finding sea shells and beach glass to take home. Most of all, Isabella looked forward to jamming with Grandma Pat. One day every June after school was out for the summer, Aunt Amy, Aunt Barbara, Grandma Pat, Isabella, and her mother, Kelly, promised each other to meet at the local farm, pick strawberries, and then make strawberry jam…
Today was the last day of nursery school for Isabella. It was field day. Tomorrow Isabella and her family were jamming.
While coloring at a large table with her six classmates, Isabella overheard two teachers standing by the classroom door talking about the weather. Ms Espinoza, her teacher, said, “The sky is gray with lots of dark clouds. It looks like it might rain. I hope the rain holds off until after field day.”
Mrs. Brown said, “I heard the weather report this morning. The weather man said the rain would start late this afternoon and rain through the night and tomorrow morning.”
“That’s good,” commented Ms Espinoza.
Isabella thought, “No, that’s not good! Tomorrow is jamming day. If it rains, we can’t pick strawberries at the farm. Oh, no! Then we can’t make jam.” She put her head down on the table…
That night Isabella said a special prayer, “Please, don’t let it rain tomorrow.” Then she went to sleep.
She woke up early the next morning, ran to the window, opened her curtain, and looked outside. The sky was gray and full of dark clouds just like yesterday during field day. The driveway, sidewalk, and road were wet, but it wasn’t raining. Isabella was thankful that it wasn’t raining. She ran downstairs where her mother was making blueberry pancakes for breakfast and asked, “Mommy, it’s not raining. Can we still go picking strawberries?”
“Oh, yes,” Mommy said. “I spoke with Grandma Pat this morning. She said to wear your boots, because the field will be muddy. As long as there isn’t a downpour, we’re going. A little rain won’t spoil our plans.”
Everyone met at The Pickin’ Patch around 9:30 AM and drove out to the strawberry field. Isabella jumped out of the car and ran to the edge of the field. The straight and narrow rows of strawberry plants ran as far as the eye could see. She saw the farmer sitting on his tractor at the edge of the field. She could not believe the sweet strawberry fragrance that filled the air. “It’s like strawberry perfume,” Isabella said…
By the end of the day, there were forty-eight jars full of strawberry jam. That morning the precious little berries were growing in the farmer’s field, basking in the sunshine, drinking up the rain, and nourished by the soil. They were picked, washed, cooked, and now were captured in crystal clear jars. Isabella stared at the ruby red jam in the little jars lined up on her grandmother’s counter and asked, “Grandma, how did you learn to make strawberry jam?”
Grandma Pat smiled and sat down in a chair by the kitchen table. Isabella climbed up to sit on her lap. Barbara, Amy, and Kelly sat down too. “Every June when I was a little girl, my mother, your Great Grandmother Lillie, would take my sister, Maggie, and me to the Twomey family farm on Long Island where Lillie grew up. Her sister and brother, Aunt Mame and Uncle David, still lived there then. They raised chickens, geese, pigs, and cows and grew potatoes, corn, cauliflower, turnips, and strawberries.”
“We’d pick strawberries all morning in the field, come back to the farm house, have lunch, and make strawberry jam the same way we did today. Aunt Mame and Lillie learned to make jam from their mother, your Great Great Grandmother Margaret Kaelin Twomey,” Grandma Pat explained to Isabella.
“It’s the best jam in the world!” Aunt Barbara said as she stood up and walked over to the counter. Then Barbara started to put the little jars into boxes for everyone to take home.
“Oh, look!” Isabella pointed out the window and said, “It stopped raining. The sun is coming out. And, I see a rainbow in the sky.” Everyone cheered.
Isabella smiled. She now knew that the jam her great great grandmother, great grandmother, great great aunt, grandmother, aunts, mother and she made would always be made in the month of June whether it was raining or the sun was shining. And, one day, she would go jamming with her children and grandchildren, too.