Thursday, January 15, 2009

I was poking around on PortlandPsst! for the first time, and ran across a sentence that couldn't help but pique my curiosity: "A Maine woman who stored wild berry jelly in the toilet of her camper during a trip to Alaska died." At first I thought the jelly is what had killed her. But on following the link, I found quite a different story. Silly me.

Read on about Esther's Potty Jelly and more...
Feature Obituary: Esther Jackson, 89, master gardener and a fantastic cook
By BOB KEYES, Staff Writer
January 4, 2009

Above all else, Esther Jackson knew how to grow things.

She was a bookkeeper and loved to dance, but was known across Maine for her ability to coax food and flowers from the earth.

She and her husband, Carlton, made their home on a 180-acre farm in Nobleboro, where they raised cattle, poultry and pigs and lots of vegetables, recalled her daughter Johnna Jackson of Florida.

"We grew beans, corn, beets, carrots, onions, tomatoes, turnips, squash – anything you could think of, we grew," her daughter said. "The only thing we ever had out of a can that I can remember as a kid was pineapple. That's the only thing I remember having out of a can, and that was a real treat."

Esther Laura Jackson died Thursday at age 89 in Florida, where she moved to be closer to her daughters, Johnna Jackson of Lake City and Sherry Hanna of Orlando.

She loved to travel, but spent most of her life in Maine, living throughout the midcoast. Her last Maine residence was Topsham.

A master gardener, she was active in the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, her daughter said.

"One year my mother put up 382 quarts of green beans. We kidded her and said, 'Mom, you realize we will have to eat beans once a day for more than a year?' She also loved to dig dandelion greens. We loved them. People think they are a weed, but they are some of the most delicious greens you could eat."

Johnna Jackson said her mother was a great cook, who preferred cooking by instinct and not with recipes. She kept a handwritten cookbook, which the family has preserved and will pass on to grandchildren as part of the family legacy.

Her daughter recalled a favorite story from the early 1980s, when her mother and a friend traveled by camper to Alaska. They were in Alaska for up to six months, and were not using the camper's toilet for its intended purpose. Instead, her mother used it to store jars of jelly.

"Mother absolutely loved to pick wild berries. She thought they were a gift from God. My mother gathered all these little tiny jelly glasses, and picked all kind of berries in Alaska and made jelly. She wrapped the jars in newspaper and fit them inside the toilet bowl so they would not get broken. We called them Esther's Potty Jelly. It became a great family joke for many years."

A hero to dandelion green lovers everywhere!

1 comment:

Mark LaFlamme said...

And I'm not talking about the toilet jelly. I'm talking about the little girl in the illustration. Is it me? Or does she appear poised to twist her head 360 degrees upon her neck before power vomiting green stuff all over her mother?