This has been the bumpiest school start that I can remember. I keep saying we will find our rhythm—and we will. But we are going to miss the bus a few more times before we do.
The other morning, as I was filling the coffeemaker, making breakfast, packing lunches, and calling out the time every few minutes, I noticed the bowl of figs on our kitchen counter. I really had to do something with them before they spoiled.
When we visited my sister-in-law Karin, I had admired her fig trees. The leaves were large and beautiful, and the scent of the figs was heavenly. She offered me a few handfuls of the fresh fruit, so we picked figs together, and I was excited to bring them home. A few days later, though, I could see that they were as ripe as ripe can be. I realized that morning—busy as it was—might be my last opportunity to save them.
Karin had sent me a recipe for the fig jam she made, and it looked easy enough. I had everything I needed. Except time.
There’s never enough time. But as I looked at the figs sitting there, I realized we were down to the wire. It was now or never.
So, in between filling thermoses and putting grapes into lunchboxes and feeding boys and birds their breakfasts, I washed and chopped the figs. I let them sit in a pot with sugar until they were syrupy. Then I added water and lemon juice to the figs—neither measured carefully or well—and heated the mixture on the stove. I let it boil until it seemed to be the consistency of jam, and I took it off to cool.
All this cooking happened as we hurried through our morning chaos. The jam was bubbling as one child raced out the door to his carpool ride. I was reaching for a spoon to stir it as my other son yelled, “There’s the bus!” and grabbed his backpack and ran off into a new day.
I slid the pot of jam off the burner and let it cool while I was getting my own bags together to head off to work. At that point, I realized I had no plan for jarring the jam, so I put it in a large glass mug, covered it with foil, and put it in the fridge to enjoy later.
Sometimes when you take too much on, everything falls apart. But sometimes, when you take on one more thing, something you really want to do, it can bring a little joy and beauty to the rest. I find that happens when I make a special dinner—or these days, any dinner—for my family. I discover it when I take the time to do a little writing for this space here. I especially realize it when I make extra time for prayer. Sometimes an additional task that doesn’t seem achievable with all that you’re balancing reminds you of the best parts of life and brings everything else into perspective.
As I was slipping water bottles into backpacks and scrambling to find spoons, the pot on the stove was filling the kitchen with the sweet smell of sugared figs. And since then, I’ve enjoyed the jam—and shared it with my family. A win all the way around.
Fig jam is worth the trouble. I hope you find a little extra sweetness in the busyness of this time of year, even if you have to create it yourself.
If you want to try your hand at fig jam, here’s the recipe.
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