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A Blue Bottle for Mom

October 5, 2023 at the Preview Night of Terrain 14 annual juried art show, Spokane WA. I have done some canning and preserving of different foods for a few short years now, so I immediately grabbed an old dusty Ball mason jar! I don't plan on using the jar for anything, old glass jars are not a good choice for canning as they might not withstand boiling or heating. I have had jars full of pickles or jam break in the hot water! I chose a lovely old Ball jar, while I attended the Terrain 14 art show in 2023. These old canning jars always remind me of my mother who grew up on a ranch in the mountains of western Montana in the early 1900s. The history of Ball jars dates back to 1858, when John Mason registered for a patent for these canning jars. Later on, the Ball family bought up the expired Mason jar patent in 1884 and began production of these jars. I was able to date the jar according to the logo style on the side of the jar, which dates it from 1900 to 1910!! The authenticity was further proven by internal bubbles in the glass, seam lines and the unique bluish coloration of the bottle, which was a byproduct of the processing of sand from a Lake Michigan beach. My mother moved with her family to a ranch on the Blackfeet reservation when she was in her early teens, about late 1930s. Their land was located near the Heart Butte Mountain, a beautiful area featuring mountains, woodlands and farmland. My grandmother, a quiet taciturn woman, was also a master gardener and my mother talked about their canning efforts in the late summer and the produce that they preserved. My grandfather raised cattle, grew wheat and had a small wood mill on the property. I don’t know much more about their life there, although she wrote a few beautiful stories of her peaceful life on the ranch, the quiet winters and her discovery of jazz. So this lovely old Ball Mason jar with its bluish tint, seam marks, scratches and bubbles is a wonderful reminder of that tough old woman who was my mother! The old blue Mason jar will enjoy a quiet dignified retirement on my windowsill with a nice floral arrangement or collection of pretty buttons. Elaine Gerard


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