Like many women, I am deeply ambivalent about domestic tasks. Raised by a working mother who would have spent her last $20 on a cleaner so she didn’t have to do the loathsome job of scrubbing toilets, devouring a steady diet of feminist texts equating housework with servitude, I now vacillate wildly between enjoying things like cooking, gardening and family organizing and feeling oppressed by them. (Cleaning, I reserve for the wholely unambivalent category of Last Circle of Hell.)
But I put this all aside for making strawberry jam. When I was a kid, picking the berries (and gorging myself on them in the field) was the highlight of June. Eating the jam my mom and dad made from it was my favourite part of the day the rest of the year.
Last summer, I convinced my only partly enthusiastic parents to revive the tradition. And so this weekend we spent a goodly portion of a very hot cottage Saturday and Sunday cleaning, hulling, mashing, stirring and pouring strawberry jam.
I’m not saying it was easy or that I don’t feel a certain, uh, ambivalence about the reading/swimming/playing with my children time lost to our labour, but being able to look forward to mornings the rest of the year makes it all seem worthwhile.