A couple weeks ago, during one of our regular Skype chats with Portugal, my mother paid me a compliment. She has always been generous and kind with her words so this wasn’t out of character in any way – but – it was the way she said it. There was a tenderness in her voice; a sense of pride was very much present. In Portuguese, she told Ava that she was a lucky little girl to have a mama that took such good care of her, a mama that spent time with her, and played with her. A mama that made an effort to provide her with wholesome food, food that took love, thought, and effort to prepare. She turned to me and told me that I was a good mama.
Sometimes I feel as though I have no idea what I am doing as a mother, and other times, well, I feel like a superhero. Bam! Those are the great moments – those superhero moments. More of those, please!
What an amazing acknowledgment from an extraordinary woman, my mom. Seriously. A woman who dreamt things for me before I could see them for myself. A woman who always put my needs first, who made room for my plans before her own. Of course, it got me teary-eyed and feeling all fuzzy inside. It was a huge compliment!
After our conversation, I began reminiscing - taken to my own childhood. More specifically, how the food I was given as a child influenced me and shaped me into the woman I am today.
Before moving to Portugal at a young age, I had the privilege of spending my first seven years of life in the most beautiful part of British Columbia, Canada, the Okanagan Valley, also known as wine country. My family owned an orchard, acres of land, filled with glorious fruit trees from apples, cherries, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, the most delicious fruit I have ever had. We also had a vegetable garden (including some fruit of the berry variety) that would yield fresh organic produce to keep the family fed.
The memories of this time are endless! I enjoyed playing in the orchard – playing in large fruit bins when I was a wee girl and then venturing off with our dogs to see what we could find in the orchard. There was always something fun to do and explore like running around barefoot and having the fallen cherries squish between my toes. The late night canning of fruit and vegetables to last us for the entire year. Canned peaches and pears that we would have with vanilla ice cream, canned cherries, pickled onions, beets, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, peppers, and the list went on. We had a grand selection of fruit jams – apricot was my favorite and still is! There were also the hot green peppers that my dad would have with my mother’s soup. Her soup was good too. Maybe that is where my love of pickles comes from – we had a cooler room full of them and the best pickles ever! In fact, everything from that cellar was incredible. And then there was the smell of my mother’s fresh bread out of the oven, I can still taste that warm bread with the melted butter. So much freshness and so much goodness - does it get any better than that? Not for me.
I plan to one day have our own garden and maybe even a few fruit trees – okay, maybe the fruit tree part is a little far-fetched but still, I will continue to keep that dream alive as living off the land is a beautiful gift, a more sustainable one, and one that I love. Before all of that, though, I want to acknowledge my mother and thank her for her teachings that I can now pass on to my little girl. Thank you, Mom. Thank you for everything.