As I sat on the patio this morning cleaning onions my mind drifted to the days when we were still young. It was at the time of our first anniversary. We had moved into a trailer on the farm and had a garden for the first time. I was enthused about learning to can, and I had always loved my mother's home-canned tomato soup. Mom gave me the recipe and I gathered up the goods to produce it. The cans all processed well, and the glowing red contents were beckoning us to sample them. I popped open a test jar for Sunday dinner. The flavor knocked us back in our chairs! It was full-bodied but hot, hot, hot. Mom's was never like that. I scooped up a bowl and dashed to get her opinion. One taste and she had the diagnosis - too much onion. Really it tasted like concentrated onion juice with a hint of tomato.
"But, Mom," I insisted, "I followed your recipe exactly."
"How much onion did you put in?" she asked.
"I put in 12 like the recipe said," I confidently replied.
"How big were they?" she chuckled.
I held up my hand to indicate softball size. That melted her into a full-fledged guffaw.
"The onions were supposed to be no bigger than a shooter marble."
We ate every bit of that soup confident that it was a once in a lifetime experience. That memory fled back to me today as I sat and cleaned onions. The men had dug all the onions the first of the week. It has been such a wet summer so far here that about 1/3 of them came out rotten to some degree. I sat and cleaned the rotten ones. An onion that started out the size of a tennis ball would end up the size of a shooter marble. Those were the size I should have used 35 years ago. Finally, I understand. I had Laura can a batch, and she did it properly. Human progress.