Long distance yoga

Last week, I came across the offer of an introductory month of streaming Gaia yoga classes (and, it turns out, many other resources) for just $.99 (see? Facebook ads DO work!)

I’ve been mulling over a return to yoga for months, but I haven’t yet managed to drag myself to a class. I have busted out the yoga mat that Santa dutifully brought me for Christmas a number of times and for various reasons but I haven’t been able to get motivated to work on getting into a real yoga groove again.

I love yoga. For me it is an extremely enjoyable experience and a deeply spiritual practice. In these days of Bikram and gym yoga, it’s been a challenge for me to find studios and instructors who combine the mind-body experience in the way that I want and that I’m willing to pay for.

When I started to seriously consider checking out all that Gaia has to offer, I enlisted the company of a great friend. Amy. Being the details master and super organizer that she is, she sniffed out the 14-day Fundamentals of Yoga series and that seemed like a great place to start.

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Amy and I come from different yoga backgrounds. If I’d known she found yoga intimidating, I would have dragged her out to a class YEARS ago. But because we live in different cities, 295 miles apart, it isn’t like we can just catch a studio class together so this was a great way for us to share the experience. We picked a date to start and decided to debrief after each session.

Here are a few of the questions we asked one another before we got started. These are Amy’s answers. You can find mine here.

  1. What’s your yoga background? I’ve never done traditional yoga, outside of a few poses, for which I don’t remember why I would have even done them. I have taken 3 Bikram classes and I imagine it’s very much what hell is like.
  2. What has prevented you from trying it in the past? Laziness I guess. And partially fear. Yoga is a topic that feels tremendously overwhelming, and I really never knew where to start. Couple that with my laziness, and it’s a recipe for not attempting it at all.
  3. What are your expectations for trying yoga? That it will be relaxing, but I know it will also be difficult after having little physical activity in nearly a year and a half.
  4. What do you hope to gain from this 14-day fundamentals series? Flexibility. Create a base for future series and more advanced work. Calm. Routine. Both of which I’m lacking.
  5. What is the single most important thing that yoga can bring to you? A level of fitness I’ve never experienced before.

Do you practice yoga? Do you prefer doing it at home or in a studio? 

New music Monday: Jimmy Eat World

Get Right

A few weeks ago, as we were driving in the car, Kevin and I reminisced about how it used to be when your favourite band came out with new music or you heard a song you liked. It started when I said, “hey, remember when you had to actually go to the store to buy an album that you wanted?” It led to laughter and memories of waiting by the radio to hit <record + play> on your ghetto blaster to capture a song in order to be able to listen to it again. I feel a little nostalgic about the lengths we used to go to and it was hilarious to talk about. Today, though, I am thrilled about modern technology and the fact that I got new Jimmy Eat World (my favourite – eeeeeeeeeee!) practically gift-wrapped, tied with a ribbon and delivered to my inbox this morning. Heck, yeah! What a fantastic surprise!

I really do have fond memories of waiting for new music and the full time job it could sometimes be getting a recording of it before I could get to the mall and buy to record/tape/CD, don’t you? Share yours in the comments!

 

Columbia StrEAT food truck festival fun

Did you know that the largest food truck festival in North America happens here in New Westminster? It’s true! And, at their fourth annual event, we were finally in attendance for the first time yesterday.

55. Columbia StrEAT

We had a pretty amazing day outside of that. We went for a nice hike out in my hometown of Port Moody, we had coffee and yogurt parfaits at one of our favourite cafes and then we visited a friend who showed us all around his very impressive vegetable garden and gave us plenty of goodies to go.

We came home and we thought about not going to the food truck festival. It was really hot and we hadn’t stopped to get cash. The counter arguments were that it was literally down the street from us and, well, I was really hungry. Kevin had some lacrosse commitments to tend to after 7pm, but it was only 4:30 at the time so we made a quick trip up to the ATM and then came right back. We walked down the street and it didn’t take long for us realize we were really glad we did.

The first stop we made was at the one place I’d told Kevin I was really excited to visit – the Maille mustard tent. There, they had samples of all their regular and seasonal mustards as well as stations where you could mix your own mustard. The sampling stations were stocked with pretzels and pickles and it was a lot of fun. I liked the seasonal mango with Thai spices mustard best while Kevin liked the blue cheese version, also seasonal.

48. Columbia StrEAT

We left Maille and headed out on what was basically an intel mission. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t waste our appetite on something we saw early on only to find out that there was something better down the road. There were, after all, ninety (90!) food trucks on site so it wasn’t like our choices were limited.

We strolled from one end to the other surveying options and commenting on anything we found particularly interesting. In the end, we each went for our traditional faves. For Kevin that means grilled cheese and for me, that’s a veggie dog. But that wasn’t all.

53. Columbia StrEAT

50. Columbia StrEAT

While he waited in line for his sandwich at Cheese Street Grill, a familiar sight caught my eye and I couldn’t help but race towards it. Johnny’s Pops are artisan popsicles that we’ve tried several times (okay, probably every time) out at Ladner Market. Our favourite is the blueberry cheesecake popsicle, but since that wasn’t on the menu, Kevin went for Creamy Strawberry Lemonade while I tried the tri-colour Mango Yogurt Strawberry. As always, delicious.

In addition to that, we sampled kombucha from Bucha Brew and the mint and algae flavour was so good, I couldn’t resist buying a growler and a fill of it.

51. Columbia StrEAT

As we meandered through tents hosted by VanCity and Save-On-Foods, we eventually got back to where we started and where I’d spotted Dougie Dog almost as soon as we’d arrived. That was my veggie dog destination and they didn’t disappoint. I opted for the Charlie Mac minus the bacon. It was really good, but I wish I’d chosen the Super Mario instead. It isn’t because mac and cheese on a veggie dog wasn’t delicious, but mostly because it’s a little bland and I tend to eat veggie dogs as a vessel for more flavourful things like hot peppers and raw onions and mustard.

52. Columbia StrEAT

By this time, Kevin was needing to think about heading home and I was wanting to catch the end of the Tragically Hip concert on tv so I basically took my dog to go and we hiked up the hill, but not before one more stop.

We rounded the corner of our street and there was Cannoli King. Now, my experience with cannoli ends with Marie Barone, but given how much her husband, kids and grandkids loved cannolis, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been curious about them for years. So I stopped. Kevin said he didn’t want one, but insisted I take the deal of three for $10 vs the single for $4 so I didn’t really believe him from the start. Cannoli King makes “the original Sicilian cannoli of Vancouver” though I wouldn’t know how to compare it to anything else since this was my first cannoli experience, but they were really good. (And, no, I didn’t eat them all.)

54. Columbia StrEAT

So, we went and were glad we did. Here are a few of the ways I almost talked myself out of going and what I discovered about my excuses after actually doing it.

Ninety food trucks? Come on. I’m only going to be able to eat from one or maybe two of them. We made actual purchases at five of them, but it was still fun to look at all of the trucks themselves, their menus and the food as other people walked away with it.

It’ll be too crowded. It was crowded, for certain, and in some places more than others. It’s held all the way down Columbia Street which is quite a large area so there is lots of space for people to spread out.

The line-ups will be too long. Anybody who knows me knows that there are very few things I feel are worthy of standing in line. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of one at the moment. I don’t stand in line for anything so I thought that when we went, it’d be a frustrating series of lines. In truth, with so many options and, again, so much space, there were hardly any lines. In fact, we only stood in two lines – about three minutes for the grilled cheese and maybe five for the popsicles.

49. Columbia StrEATThis was at the top of the festival and you can see the screen
where the concert was broadcast in the middle

It was a really nice (and brilliant!) touch that the organizing group arranged to have a big screen erected to show tonight’s Tragically Hip farewell show in Kingston. At the top of the festival, you could see and hear all the action from the concert and that drew a the largest crowd of all.

Congratulations to the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association on organizing a great event like this. I’m sure tons of planning goes into it and it seemed to go off without a hitch. It certainly gives residents like us a feeling of pride that our city can play host to something so big and well-attended. In case you’re wondering, here’s a look at what the layout of North America’s largest food truck festival looks like.

The Tragically Hip, to me

In my grade ten sewing class, the teacher used to let us take turns bringing our own CDs to play during our class. Whenever it was my turn, I’d choose The Tragically Hip’s Up To Here. Take a look at the Billboard charts for that year and you’ll catch a glimpse of what my classmates were bringing to the table: Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, Roxette, maybe some Bon Jovi. I don’t remember exactly who chose what, but I do remember that my choices, as has been common through much of my life, differed greatly from the norm. But we listened and I even claimed a few can-con converts in my closest sewing buddies.

tragically-hip-album-up-to-here

For me, the Tragically Hip’s appeal faded shortly after. I tolerated Road Apples, thought Fully Completely was okay, but gave up at the arrival of Day for Night. It wasn’t a bad breakup, but the kind where everyone just sort of moves on. I never really disliked their music, I just quit buying their albums after I felt they lost their early raw and edgy sound and had gotten a little softer and more polished. Throughout the years, I’ve heard their music, I’ve just never been moved to buy any of it.

Grade ten sewing was nearly 27 years ago.

When the band announced the terrible news about lead singer Gord Downie being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, I was saddened, sure, but I wasn’t heartbroken. I am not overly sympathetic to celebrity figures. We hear of people getting sick and it’s awful, every single time, but it happens. Tragedy strikes every moment of every day. I am deeply sympathetic, but have learned I can’t pour out my heart in every instance. But the man was dying. And he is one of the most dynamic and entertaining front men I’d ever seen.

Then tickets went on sale. A national tour. A farewell to the band.

Not even a small part of me thought about going. My time with the Tragically Hip is long over. I wouldn’t be able to relive anything by seeing them – I only really like maybe ten per cent of their catalogue and I’d already seen them when that small fraction made up their entire live show. It’s been over for us for a long time, but like every (insert Don Cherry voice) good Canadian kid, I’ll watch their final show tonight. Possibly their final show ever.

People talk about what the band means to this country. Rolling Stone referred to them as Canada’s musical spokesperson. That’s probably true. I mean, I can’t think of a rival to them in that regard. For my friends from America and other places in the world, I don’t know if you could understand the significance of the Tragically Hip. It’s so cliche to say that they united a nation, but they kind of did. They sung about Canadian legends and hockey and things that can’t be understood without having spent a childhood here. In a world that speaks largely to you, the US of A, they spoke to us and that meant something. It may seem dramatic, but in a dynamic where we were always the neglected younger sibling, it gave us value and it gave us a sense of self-worth.

Tonight, after an extensive cross-country tour that originated in Victoria and passed through every major city, they will play their final show where it all began, in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. The show is being broadcast on the CBC and venues Canada-wide are having viewing parties so fans can get together and watch this grand finale together. It’s a really big deal.

Me, I will watch partly because they are a part of me and because I was a part of this, a 14-year old me so proud of these Canadian musicians and wanting to share them with anyone I could. I will also watch because I want to glean some insight into how a group of people, so tightly knit after thirty-two years of not just working together, but creating together, as a team, living together for long stretches, growing together as family, will pull this off. I am curious about this concert because I want to know how they will possibly find the strength and the courage to go through with it – to go through with any of it. The punctuation on tonight’s show will be the potential death of one of the performers. That is the expectation. It’s a part of life that they’ve all been forced to accept. And to live together through. And to think about, I’m sure, much more often than they’d have ever liked.

What happens tonight will be tragic, but let’s not forget how blessed we all are to have had them, to have heard them and to have known that we were saying goodbye.

There’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yeah the human tragedy
Consists in the necessity
Of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure

If you’d like to, you can donate to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.

Tell me what the Tragically Hip were to you. What’s your favourite song? Your favourite memory?

Walking Vancouver: Steveston Greenways

This is our newly adopted summer adventure: every week, we are exploring a different park,trail, hike or walk someplace around the Lower Mainland and using 109 Walks as a guidebook. In week one, we went to Deer Lake Park in Burnaby then in week two, we visited Watershed and Mud Bay Parks in Delta and Surrey, respectively.

For as long as we’ve been dating, Kevin and I have always enjoyed spending time in the Ladner and Richmond area so it really wasn’t a surprise to me that Steveston would be one of his early choices. Since he was busy playing lacrosse all day Saturday, we delayed our outing until Sunday instead. Knowing how busy it can get in the historic fishing village, we set out early(-ish) to beat the traffic (and the heat.)

42. Steveston Greenways

If you take Steveston Highway all the way past Seventh Avenue, you’ll find about six parking spots right beside the dyke that leads south to Garry Point Park and later, the Steveston everyone is familiar with – the cute little restaurants, docks and mom and pop shops. We climbed the ridge that was just high enough to hide the view behind it and hopped onto the trail. The scene there is tall grass as far as the eye can see, until that sailboats in the distance give away the fact that water is hiding behind. The trail is packed gravel, wide and steady for walkers and cyclists alike. The view of the grassy fields on one-side is countered by the houses and yards on the other. A marshy moat is the only thing separating the public from the private.

41. Steveston Greenways

Eventually, the trail opens up to Garry Point Park which offers its own network of trails and a much more distinguishable view of the Fraser River. Here, if you follow the trails out towards the water, you can get access to a couple of small beaches (though not for swimming – the current is too dangerous) and enjoy a cool breeze. We wound our way through the kite flyers and bike riders around the shoreline of the park until we entered the territory we were familiar with from our prior trips to Steveston.

If you’ve never been to Steveston, it’s adorable and it’s obvious why tourists flock here. The marina is crowded with fishermen selling freshly caught seafood right off their boats and the surrounding buildings offer great vantage points to take in all the action. Steveston was built on salmon fishing and, more accurately, salmon canning, home to at least forty-five canneries in 1890. One hundred years later, they’d all be shut down.

46. Steveston Greenways

Much of the history of the village has been preserved and it’s an enjoyable walk of its own. Our path took us through the village, but we didn’t stop to look around much.

We carried on along the top of the wharf and through town until we connected with a further waterfront that looks newly built or recently refurbished. On the right was the river again, on the left, new townhomes and apartments built in such a style that they gave off a real beach resort town vibe.

43. Steveston Greenways

After winding along the path, we eventually came to Britannia Shipyards Historic Site where a number of buildings are maintained and open for public exploration. This portion of the walkway took us over wood planks and gave us a few interesting things to look at. The area also includes a visitors centre, a water refill station and also public restrooms.

From here, we had to move inland to walk around a functioning waterfront packing plant. We eventually headed back towards the river via some inland trails and sidewalks through a townhouse complex. This was a little confusing and not very well marked, but we found our way eventually and emerged on Dyke Road just west of London Family Farm which, by the way, looks like an adorable place to visit.

44. Steveston Greenways

We crossed the road to the beachside trail on the other side and continued on, but shortly after getting onto this roadside leg of the walk, we decided to turn around. It was really hot and we weren’t entirely prepared for that. I’d left my hat at home and we were getting pretty tired from being out in the direct sun. We got to around Gilbert Road before calling it a day and the intended turnaround point was at Finn Slough. We backtracked our way to the car and cursed ourselves for not being better prepared while vowing to come back and complete this walk on a cooler day perhaps in fall or springtime.

45. Steveston Greenways C&K

The trail is flat and easy, but it should be known that there is little to no shelter here. If you head out on a sunny day like we did, be prepared. You may go long stretches before seeing even a hint of shade.

The book suggested that this walk was 15k and would take four hours. We measured our walk as 12.3km and we were out for two and a half hours.

47. Steveston Greewnays map

#AwesomeAugust Week three

I’m in week three of my daily challenge of posting something that makes me happy and August awesome. It’s been a great way to remember to practice gratitude which, I’m beginning to realize, is a way to slow down time by taking some time and thought and marking something special each day.

Keep up with my posts by following along on Instagram and share your #AwesomeAugust moments, too! 🙂

34. Awesome August Day 12

Day 12
iMessage group chats can be genius

35. Awesome August Day 13

Day 13
Tomatoes – straight out of the garden

37. Awesome August Day 15

Day 14
Bridges, pathways, farmland, cows

36. Awesome August Day 14

Day 15
Reading again. Reading Gretchen Rubin.
(Also, being regrammed by her!)

38. Awesome August Day 16

Day 16
I don’t do it often, but I always do it bold.

39. Awesome August Day 17

Day 17
Just completed the Headspace Take Ten introduction to meditation.

40. Awesome August Day 18

Day 18
Cat things. Toes, paws, whiskers, ears.
Cats make every day better.

Love by osmosis

Yesterday I cried. I cried long and I cried hard. I cried for someone I’d never met, though I’d seen her once. She’d stood on the street and I watched people walk by her. As though she wasn’t there or was invisible. They walked by and I watched as she continued to stand, serene and peaceful and beautiful and still.

I never knew her, but a part of me loved her anyway. I loved her because someone I love also did. Love by osmosis.

Towards the end of her life, I sent her everything I could to make what time she had left enjoyable. I sent her notebooks and pens, socks and a scarf. I sent her a ridiculous floral paper lantern to cheer up her hospital room. It was described to me later as “a big hit.” I sent her essential oils that were a tiny drop in the pan of the medical help she was needing, but I attached to them a desperate hope that she would use them and find some kind of comfort that she must have so rarely had. Over these weeks. Over her lifetime.

I wanted to send her a picture I’d found that had written across it, “to one person you may be the world.” But I was too shy. It crossed some unwritten, unspoken intimacy that I imagined strangers didn’t, couldn’t cross. I regret that now because today my only hope is that she knew that. That she felt deep inside her troubled heart that she meant many variations of the world to many people, even one who never knew her.

I cried like I’d lost a friend.

But I’d cried before yesterday. I’d cried for her years totalling fewer than mine. I’d cried for all the awful things she’d seen and I never have. I cried for all the beautiful things I’d seen and she never would. I cried for the tragedy of people walking by her like she didn’t exist or mean something, like she wasn’t a human being just like them. I cried for the shame and the pain and the hurt that the way she was ignored and tossed aside must have multiplied inside her. And I cried for all the others who suffer and survive a lifetime of trauma and struggle, loneliness and isolation every day.

It could be argued that she is the one responsible. It could be said that she did it to herself. But blame doesn’t seem so important when the person you’re assigning it to can’t defend themselves. Part of me wishes I could step back in time and tell those people on the street that she’d be dead in half a year, but I wonder if it would matter or if anyone would care.

I haven’t really stopped crying for her since yesterday and it feels like a part of me always will.

May you find peace and rest in it, my friend I never knew.

if-we-have-no-peace-it-is-because-we-have-forgotten-that-we-belong-to-each-other-mother-teresa-mother-quote

Walking Vancouver: Watershed Park to Mud Bay Park

This is our newly adopted summer adventure: every week, we are exploring a different park,trail, hike or walk someplace around the Lower Mainland and using 109 Walks as a guidebook. Read up on week one, when we went to Deer Lake Park in Burnaby.

For week two and my first turn to make a selection, I chose the walk from Watershed Park in Delta to Mud Bay Park in Surrey. I wasn’t familiar with either the beginning or the end so this seemed like a real adventure to me. When the book said, “If you like both forest and shoreline, this walk is for you,” I knew this walk was, well, for me.

30. Watershed Park to Mud Bay

We rolled up to the park via Kittson Parkway and found parking pretty easily. When we checked the park out on the board, I noticed little maps of the park in a baggie pinned to the frame. I thought this was a nice touch and we referred back to it a few times throughout the day.

The hike begins in Watershed Park which is a wooded area with a network of trails that meandered throughout it. We took the Low Trail straight through the park and that was pretty easy to follow because it is wide, well-trod and always obvious. It is quite beautiful and parts of the trail we took gave me an old country feel. Lush and green, it is very typical of a west coast walk.

29. Watershed Park to Mud Bay

The Low Trail in Watershed Park is easygoing and smooth. There are very few inclines and it would be welcoming to a stroller or someone who was a little unsteady on their feet.

We traversed Watershed Park in less than half an hour – by my measurement, it was just over 2km from one side to the other. From the exit on the other side, we took a short stretch of road that went under Highway 10 and connected us to a walkway that led us between some brush and some pastures. When this pathway ended, we took a right turn into what I thought was the most picturesque part of the walk, a fenced straightaway through marshland that connected us to Colebrook Road on the other side.

28. Watershed Park to Mud Bay

We followed the road for two kilometres with farmland on one side, fields buffering highway on the other and a remarkable number of cars sitting parked on the side who then hightail it when they see pedestrians coming. (I don’t even want to know.)

The walk is on the, in some places rather narrow, shoulder of the road here, but I give props to the city of Surrey because they’ve a fantastic job of putting up markers at frequent enough intervals that you’ll see one right around the time you’d probably start to wonder if you were in the right place – just one tiny step ahead.

The road winds along until it turns into another. Both were lined with perfectly ripe blackberries so I foraged while Kevin walked ahead of me. Eventually, we turned right, crossed some railroad tracks and found the sign at the entrance to the park.

32. Watershed Park to Mud Bay

The driveway into the park is quite long so when you think you’re there, you actually still have a little ways to go. Once we’d arrived, I realized that shoreline was the correct descriptor since beach wouldn’t have been appropriate. It’s a little bay of mud. There is evidence of water, but nothing more than puddles to be seen. Just mud as far as the eyes could see. (Even Kevin’s! – my vision is terrible.)

Mud Bay Park is a hotspot for bird watchers particularly during migration season. It’s calm and peaceful place with fields and raised dykes that allowed for views across the water as far as Tsawwassen and Point Roberts. Here, we picked a park bench with a view of the water and took a break to eat our lunch.

22. Awesome August Day 6

Mud Bay Park offers its own trail system that measures about three kilometres, but we continued around after our pit stop and then cut back on a trail that shortened our loop.

Our return trip was a backtrack of all the places we’d already walked through, though we each decided to take a different route once we were back into Watershed Park. I cut up to The Meadow and onto the higher Pinewood Trail while Kevin went to the actual Watershed. Somehow we both managed to hit the very nice and refreshing drinking water station (kudos, Delta!) and finish up on the same path to the car. The lesson we learned in our exploration was that the other, higher trails in the park can be killers – lots of severely uphill battles to get up there, but they’re pretty nice when you do. Also, that’s where they keep the water. 😉

31. Watershed Park to Mud Bay

We shared our walk with other casual walkers, runners, mountain bikers and even horses. That traffic dropped off once we headed towards the roadside portion of the trip and, in fact, we never saw anyone on foot again until we were in Mud Bay Park.

Wildlife spotting: 3 herons, 1 snake

The book suggested that this walk was 14km and that we should allow four hours. Even with our modifications, I measured 13.9km (Kevin was over 14) in three hours. (That didn’t include our break for lunch.) I enjoyed this walk very much especially because we went through all different kinds of scenery and topography. It’s a great way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon!

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What do you always keep in your pocket, purse or pack when out hiking?

#AwesomeAugust week two

Writing here every day has proven to be a little more challenging than I’d originally expected and/or planned for. I’m going back to the drawing board this weekend to figure out how to manage it and I’m going to get this train back on its tracks.

I have been keeping up with a few things: meditation, gratitude journaling, #AwesomeAugust posts on Instagram and Facebook to name a few. In honour of #ThankfulThursday, here’s a recap of the past week’s

21. Awesome August Day 5Day 5
I’d been dreaming a PB&J for weeks.
This Bistro Box from Starbucks is like a treasure chest of lunchtime goodies.

22. Awesome August Day 6Day 6
Long hikes and lunches on park benches.

23. Awesome August Day 7Day 7
Checking things off lists.
Also, swimming in lakes.

24. Awesome August Day 8Day 8
Sweet, succulent surprises.

25. Awesome August Day 9Day 9
Fruits of labour.

26. Awesome August Day 10Day 10
Massive and magnificent pink dahlias.

27. Awesome August Day 11Day 11
I always believed in futures…”

What’s been awesome for you so far this August? 

Lessons in canning

I put canning peaches in my list of things I wanted to do this month on sort of on a whim. On one hand, I have always wanted to learn to can foods, but on the other, it’s always seemed like a really complicated – and, frankly, risky (I’m afraid it’ll give me the power to inadvertently kill someone) – practice. Then I saw that Urban Digs had organic peaches at the farm stand. They said they were seconds and perfect for canning and it seemed like a sign. Two days later, we headed over to the farm and in the meantime, I studied the literature. All of it.

25. Awesome August Day 9

This may seem like a boring detail, but it is so absurdly ME that I can’t resist sharing. We got to the farm and upon being greeted, I immediately asked about the peaches. Sure enough, there was a box on display. We looked at it – and this is where we get authentically and ridiculously Carly – I immediately thought there is no way that one box will be enough. “We’ll take two!” And that’s how we became the proud new owners of 40 pounds of Okanagan peaches.

You see, I always start strong, but my finish is a little weaker. I have a large collection of yarn, knitting needles and patterns and only about four very basis scarves to show for that. Halfway through Canning Day, as I was still in the middle of my first box of peaches, I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into.

So, by the time Canning Day had rolled around, I’d meshed together all of my learnings and devised a plan of attack. I’d mostly combined the overall peach plan from BC Tree Fruits with Simply Canning’s raw pack method and rolled up my sleeves.

Here’s the short version of how to can peaches (description, not instruction):

  1. Clean your jars
  2. Make a sugar syrup
  3. Peel peaches
  4. Stuff peaches into jars
  5. Fill jars with syrup
  6. Put lids on jars
  7. Process jars in hot water

And here are a few things I learned in the process.

  • 40 pounds is a lot of peaches. It was lucky that the day before my project, I’d mentioned to my parents that I was doing this and mom said, “Do you want my canner?” Uh, YEAH! With the canner came two dozen .5 litre jars and that, friends, that was a lifesaver. (I’d bought twelve litre jars. Ha!)
  • It’s best to do some pot/vessel management pre-canning. There is a complex balance to navigate between all of the actions at play at any given point. There is the canner itself, a pot to keep the syrup hot, a pot to boil the peaches for skinning and you will also need to keep the jars you plan to use warm. This can occupy another element on your stove or, as I found out midway through the day, you can, run the jars through the dishwasher and keep them warm in there, plucking them out as needed.
  • Before you get started, make yourself lots of counterspace, empty both sinks if you have two and keep lots of clean tea towels at hand. I thought I did the first, didn’t do the second and accidentally got the third one right.
  • Don’t make plans for when you’re done. This is mostly because it’s going to take you much longer than you think and/or all freaking day. Also, to this end, get lots of podcasts or Netflix movies lined up ahead of time.
  • Coffee. Plan for it. And have a runner loved one on hand to take care of the necessities – food, drinks, sanity.
  • It isn’t the end of the world (or all of your hard work) if you do, after trying your best, have air bubbles in your jars. Given how much emphasis there is on getting rid of them, I thought someone might die from bubbles, but it turns out that it’s just good advice/best practice. We’re all going to live. (I really wish I’d know this before and not after.)
  • It’s even more rewarding than I imagined. I’m not going to lie – I’m pretty proud of myself.

My work is not complete. Next up: finding a place to store the peaches, all thirty-four (34!) jars of them.