I have so much to say about this zine; it really touched me deeply. Basically, it’s about the unexpected parallels between grief and canning. That’s right – canning, like making preserves and pickles. On the outside, it’s in a style pretty typical to zines, photocopied in black & white and stapled together. But it read like a short story, or personal essay. The zine opens with a line drawing of a her mother’s jar lifting tongs, captioned “they’re all I have left from the time when she used to can.” As the zine progresses, the author recounts the decline of her mother’s health, interspersed with bittersweet memories of the Minnesota and Michigan State Fairs, soaking up the organic, earthy energy while her mom won ribbons for her work in canning.
Food was not only nourishment, but self-expression, and the smoothies and purees the author prepared for her mother while she was in the hospital held more meaning than just a meal. After her mother passes, she takes up canning, once her mother’s realm – how fitting that a loss should push her to want to preserve. “When you vacuum-seal a Mason jar of food in a canner, that’s called processing,” she explains. “How long will I be processed? Who will lift me out of the canner, gently, with those green jar lifters?” By following in her mother’s tradition, and becoming the new Prestigious Processor of the Pantry, she is keeping her mother’s presence in her life. The point being made is that filling her mother’s shoes has soothed the grief – she just wishes she didn’t have to.