Friday, July 20, 2012

Berry Picking Time

     I've been channeling Esther the past few days. That is, I've picked blueberries until my fingers were purple and pruny, and I've frozen blueberries, and fresh peaches from the Amish, and made fresh blueberry-peach crisp and cobbler, and plain peach cobbler, and blueberry muffins, and peach scones.... well, you get the idea.
     Esther- my mom -loved picking blueberries. I don't recall a single summer that we didn't head over to Peppers, outside of Franklinville, at least once in August, often more than once,  and pick and pick and pick. She LOVED picking blueberries, and I loved eating them.While she picked, I ate.  I did NOT like picking so much, or for very long, nor did I love waiting around once I wanted to leave, which was always WAY sooner than mom wanted to leave. I so clearly remember whining to go, and she would assure me that we would, just as soon as she finished THAT bush. But then, she'd move a foot, and there would be other tempting berries, and she would have to stop and pick those, while I ratcheted up the whining to unable-to-ignore status, and FINALLY, we'd have our (her) stash weighed, pay for it, and head home. There would always be fresh blueberry muffins the next day, sometimes a pie, sometimes crisp or cobbler. Mostly I remember eating them, fresh, and freezing them for muffins over the winter. She was not a huge, or notable, baker, but she did put fresh fruits into crisps and cobblers that were pretty good.

     On Tuesday morning, before the temperature here climbed into the high 90's, I went with two friends to pick blueberries. While I picked out in the warm summer sunshine, listening to crows jawing back and forth across the field, I thought fondly of my mom. I also thought about my nephew, 34 now, whom we used to take berry picking with us, often. I remember his sweet  little face smeared purple as he ate way more than he picked.My mom used to tell me when I was little, and then  Michael P as well, that they weigh you on the way in, and on the way out, to see how many pounds of berries you've eaten!  It seems to simply be a right of passage for kids. I felt bad that picking berries is not a yearly tradition I have undertaken with my own kids. I'm not really sure why I didn't, other than simply being busy meant I often have not gone berry picking. In fact, I was pleased with myself that I actually did so this summer. It's been awhile. 
     On the way home, we stopped at one of the Amish close by who have produce advertised,  as I wanted peas and my friend wanted peaches. No peas yet, not for a few more days, so I took half a bushel of peaches home as well.

And a couple of ripe red tomatoes made for some awesome BLT sandwiches for dinner that night.

 Another one of my mom's favorites. I miss my mom and dad, sometimes more than others, but I especially missed my mom in the blueberry patch today. And while the peach cobbler bubbled away in the oven. But I'm grateful to have those memories and glad she she passed on to me a love for berry picking that has grown much more developed over the years. This time I was the one so unwilling to leave, without filling my pail. And those blueberries on the end of the row, on the way out, I stopped to pick, topped it off just perfectly

This Amish sign always makes me laugh. First, whited out now, underneath  Peaches,it used to say Home GROWEN, which, probably a tiny bit unkindly, has been the local joke for many years. Someone obviously told them, bc they did paint over it last summer.  What makes me chuckle now is that they advertise Pug Puppies at the bottom of their produce sign, and I always picture a garden full of planted Pugs... wandering down the row, picking out the best looking one, and plucking it up, like a bunch of carrots or a ripe beefsteak tomato!