Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

Mother calls it sunshine in a jar.  Whatever berries we cannot eat up, Mother and the girls in the kitchen make into jam or jelly for us to use in the winter.  One time Mother could not find her favorite spoon for stirring the hot jam.  I found it for her.  It was hidden under a soiled apron in the corner.  I am good at finding things.  Most of the fresh berries do get eaten up in pies or just by themselves but the bruised ones or the left over ones are cooked. We all love to smell the jars when they are unsealed in the winter.  When I smell the strawberry preserves, I remember how the berries smelled when I accidentally squished them  with my bare feet in the patch under the hot sun.   My toes were colored dark pink for a long time.

Jams have the pulp of the fruit without skins or pits.  But jelly has the strained juices of simmered fruit without any pulp.  Preserves have large chunks of fruit and “conserves” are a mix of fruit, nuts and raisins.  I like jelly the best because I don’t have to chew so much.  It just slides around my mouth on top of the bread.  The colors of the different jellies are so very beautiful.  My favorite one is elderberry.  It is a very deep purple…just like the berries.  Elderberries usually grow too tall for me to pick by myself.  I help to pluck them off the stems once the taller children hand them to me in a basket.  It takes a long time.  They grow in a cluster and the flower before the fruit forms looks like Queen  Ann’s lace.  Josh told me that they are ripe by the end of August.  That is when his birthday is.  Brent’s birthday is in May.  Maybe I can go to their parties this year.

by Mary Beekman

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Mary

Friend Susan, I shall not forget my stitches or my printing. Mother and older sister

would not allow that to take place. My friend, Nell, and I and play "school" during the

hot days of summer and Sister corrects our work. Sometimes Josh or Brent whisper

the proper answer in my ear so my work is complete sooner. I wonder if I rub a smashed

strawberry on my cheeks, if I will appear more "grown-up".

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susan tolbert

Hello my sweet friend, I am so happy to hear from you. Every year when the school closes for the summer I know it is time to go pick strawberries. Years back I would go with my parents, sister and her small child, Elizabeth. We would pick berries all morning long. My father always laughed because at the end of our picking, Elizabeth would only have three or four berries because she ate most of what she picked. Her beautiful face was covered with bright pink stain. Later in the day we would make enough jam to last all of us through the winter. When you are much older you will cherish the memories of helping your mother and sisters make jam. Have a wonderful summer and remember to practice your stitches and printing. With love, sue t.

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Mary

Teri, I shall have to ask Mother regarding some berry combinations. That is a

very good idea.

Your friend,

Mary

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Mary

Sabino, I do particularly love strawberries and blackcaps. I also love elderberry jelly. It is

rather tart and good served with meat. I, too, enjoy lingonberries . It is a pleasure to see all the colors in the jam pots. Be well.

Your friend,

Mary

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Sabino

Dear Mary,

I hope you have time this summer to make a lot of jams, jellies and preserves with your mother, using the berries Josh planted in the garden this year.

Of all the berries Josh planted, which are the ones you like the most?

I like lingonberries and black currants, even though I don't know if currants are in the berries family or not, but I love jams and preserves made with any kind of berries you can find! specially, preserves made with berries found at the Beekman Farm, which I would love to try sometime soon. I saw some of the strawberries Josh is growing in your garden during the Garden Party a few weeks ago….. and they looked delicious!

I also hope you produce a lot of strawberry preserve jars this summer, maybe Brent will be able to sell some jars at the Mercantile. I will buy them as soon as you tell me they are ready.

Well Mary, enjoy your summer at the Beekman Farm!

Your friend,

SABINO

Reply
teri tighe

Mary,

You should ask your mother if she will try mixing strawberries and some other berries to get some good jam or jelly. These are very good, as well.

xo

Teri

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