A Gift of Time and Jam

My friend E came to visit this week, and gave me a lovely little gift: she and her sisters had made strawberry jam together, and she brought me a jar. She joked “It’s mostly sugar,” which might have been true, but it was a good kind of sweet, eaten on pretzel buns or biscuits or anything I happened to make to bear it to my mouth.

E’s visit, and every time I spend time with her, reminded me of the importance of time – the calm that one can cultivate by not trying to crowd one’s days. I have a temptation almost all the time to try to pack things in, as if I want to get from one thing to another without any kind of space. E is a deliberate person, who fits all the things into her day with space to progress from one to the other. It’s important, because she works as a poet and teacher, and both of those lines of work require margin, space.

Cooking takes a lot of my time lately, as I noticed while E would sip her coffee and sit with me in the sunny kitchen the past week. It’s a good thing though, because there are many shortcuts I could take: take-out, fast food, frozen meals, etc. They aren’t bad, but cooking from scratch is one of the only ways in which I “take my time” in my current lifestyle, with everything else being done as quickly as possible. It’s good to layer butter on a bun and put a little swirl of strawberry jam on top of it, adding sweetness to it and licking the extra off my finger. It’s nice to have a gift given to me, of both time and of jam, by a friend who knows a little bit about deliberately spending time.