Jarring something loose

Published 11:42 pm Thursday, April 21, 2011

I once got into a knock-down, drag-out fight with my brother over watermelon rind pickles.

It was Thanksgiving in the year 19-hundred-and-something. And my grandmother always saved the summer’s haul of watermelon rinds to make what should have been world-famous watermelon rind pickles.

My older brother Greg is an absolute fiend when it comes to hoarding and devouring those sweet little chunks of pickled watermelon rind.

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Anyway, my grandmother, crafty old bird that she was, always managed to hide a couple of Mason jars of the treasured pickle until Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing that went better with my mother’s collard greens than my grandmother’s sweet watermelon rind pickle. The combination of flavors was of such caliber that they should only grace the presence of mere mortals on special occasions.

Being the youngest and smallest boy in our brood, however, meant I always got what was left over from everything. If there was a bucket of chicken for the family to share, I got the wing and whatever deep-fried skin that fell into the bottom of the grease-filled container (not that I’m complaining about that, mind you.) If there was a loaf of bread, I got the heel slices. And when it came to those pickles, I only got the leavin’s in the juice.

Needless to say, I was getting a bit ticked off watching my older brother gobble down cube after delicious cube of my grandma’s most delicious contribution to this world. So, on this particular Thanksgiving, I had had enough. As I watched Greg putting what seemed like his 20th or 25th piece of pickle onto his Thanksgiving plate, I got fed up and decided to swipe a few from his plate with my fork.

There’s an unwritten rule amongst brothers, or at least among my brothers, that you just don’t go stealing vittles from someone’s plate. The consequences can be dreadful.

So, after my brother pounded my tiny fingers to the table with what I thought was enough force to break them and I jabbed him in the side with my fork, the brouhaha commenced. We tussled around on my grandma’s floor until our fight ended like all our fights ended, with my mother’s wrath.

Even though I can’t remember the actions my mother took to end our little dispute — the doctors say I may never fully recall it — I do remember crying some salty tears and longing for the pickles that might have been.

Here’s my point: The things we put into Mason jars mean something to us. Whether it’s sweet watermelon rind pickle, peach preserves, or just a place to keep loose change, we make Mason jars the keepers of some of our finest things.

For the sake of a story I’m writing, I hope you’ll tell me about what you keep in Mason jars. Do you pickle things? Do you collect Mason jars? Make windchimes? Anything and everything you can do with a Mason jar, I would like to hear about it. So, contact me at the email address below to tell me what you do with Mason jars.

I promise not to bring my brother with me when I come to visit you.