The past few days, I’ve been waging an internal battle in which positivity and grace had held the high ground but were taking tremendous fire from resentment, apparently far more aggressively armed.
In a moment of ceasefire, I’m sending reinforcements to grace. Because grudge pickles are deadly.
Growing up in a Polish-Canadian family, there were always pickles in the house. They never came from the store. We grew the bigger cucumbers in our garden, and the tiny ones for baby dills came from a local farm. Late every summer, Mom spent hours sorting and cleaning the cucumbers, then packing them into Mason jars with fresh dill (also from our garden) and enough garlic to mow down a squad of vampires.
She’d fill each jar with hot vinegar brine, then carefully seal each one, more than a hundred jars in all. Then they’d go downstairs to the basement pantry where, in cool silent darkness, a transformation I still consider magic would turn them from raw vegetables to something else entirely, perfect baby dills that would last us through fall, winter and spring and all the way to the next summer — when the cycle would happen all over again. The circle of life, pickle style.
Mom stopped making pickles when she and Dad divorced, my brother and I graduated high school, and we all pretty much went our separate ways, but I still remember the smell of hot brine in late August and the amazing taste of Mom’s pickles.
It’s important to note that in that same basement, while a hundred jars of cucumbers were metamorphosing from sweet to sour, something else was happening a few feet away. Three or four bushels of fresh-picked Cortland apples, preserved by the cool air and lack of light, were doing nothing at all except staying sweet, crunchy, and delicious for months and months and months. Buying apples out of season from a store was unthinkable in my family when there were always fresh-picked ones close to hand. By some alchemy, apples lived forever in our basement.
My point? Both the cucumbers and apples were preserved in that same basement, but preservation by pickling (heat, acid, chemical changes) is vastly different from preservation in a cool, dry, and calm environment.
I say this because this past week, for a few days I chose to pickle my grudges (examine them closely, clean them off, flavor them in spices and brine, and put them in a jar to ferment). I also shared too many of my grudge pickles with friends and colleagues. The more I did this, the more it showed on my face. Sour. In my outlook. Acetic.
This bothers me. It’s too early in a new year to already be sour.
The good news? With 355 days left there’s plenty of time to make better choices.
- Don’t store grudges in a recess in your mind so they can ferment, then show in your face and flavor your words and actions.
- If someone gets in your way and you have no way to change that, let them do whatever it is they are doing. You can only affect your own outcome and your own attitude.
Don’t eat grudge pickles.