Saturday, August 13, 2011

Golden Days

The Dutch word for "old-fashioned" is ouderwets, a word that is laced with connotations of being stuck-in-the-mud and unwilling to change, rather than being antiquated with dignity. If there is such a word for that (in either English or Dutch) I can't think of it right now, but then again, I've also just spent the last 15 minutes baby-talking the Tweeb, so that's not saying much.

In the Netherlands, ouderwets is sometimes used to describe the cheap/tacky blue-and-white decorations you can find sometimes in places like the Blokker or Xenos: items meant to invoke the Delft blauw of ye-olde-Holland. I think most of these items end up being sent overseas to Dutch expats or given to tourists--but only because I've never seen anybody buy such a thing. We were given a cushion decorated in the blue-and-white tile motif, which the Tweeb promptly appropriated. Even if the word is used in a positive sense, it's not entirely rid of the extreme industriousness, thriftiness, and Reformed-ness of times as recent as fifty years ago.

So it probably isn't exactly correct to describe jamming as ouderwets. Even if it has its origins in the need to preserve fruit against the rot, with the herbs/spices/liquor that Karel adds to his jams, they become too decadent to be simple preserves. I don't think it even saves us that much money: what I spend for the fruit (besides the berries, which I get from the woods) and gelei suiker--or regular sugar adds up to the cost of two pots of jelly/jam from the store, one pot if it's the fancy stuff, as Karel is oft wont to make. Whatever we do save from the extra pots that Karel makes gets detracted from the cost of Karel's time--though he considers it entertainment, much the way I consider sewing.

All I know for sure is that a row of translucent golden jars in the window is a lovely sight, especially since this summer has been cold and rainy--autumn practically started in July this year. Nothing quite like that to remind you of a summer you never had.

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