This season is all about harvest and the gifts of the earth. Every summer, one of my favorite things to do is to pick berries. First, we start with the sweet strawberries and blueberries of spring, then move into the ruby red raspberries of mid-summer, and now we're making our way into blackberry season. Blackberries are my favorite...during blackberry season. My favorite is also strawberries during strawberry season and raspberries during raspberry season. I love them all, each in their own time, and right now I'm all about the blackberries.
There's something to be said about turning the sweetness of summer into something to enjoy in winter. Being able to preserve the memories of the hot summer days spent outside picking these berries is a welcome gift in the bitter, dark, and long days of the cold winter long months. But the best parts about berry picking are not the beautiful and delightful jams and jellies that come from it. They're good...but there's more to berry picking than that.
In the spring, we felt the anticipation of eating the first food from the land once again. We were excited to get outside, to pick something for ourselves, and to taste that sweetness. That eagerness, that excitement is something that only comes after a long winter without being able to do so. That gratitude for the gift of something so sweet to eat is only possible because we couldn't have it in the winter. And so, we learn to appreciate these gifts. We are forced to remember that everything has its season and time.
When the strawberries finally were ready to be picked, we made the berry picking day a special one. We woke up early, got dressed, and drove to the local berry farm. The kids, not sure what to expect, had a twinkle in their eyes as we pulled up and walked over, feeling the excitement of the day. They giggled and laughed as we filled up our flat, helping me to find the best berries for our harvest. K slept soundly in her wrap, as she loves to do, as I crawled around in the dirt, feeling the coolness of it on my hands as I dug around for strawberries. It was a bright sunshine filled day, the kind of spring day you appreciate because it's still so new. There were lots of smiles, red smeared faces, and so much more than berry picking that happened on that day.
As we moved into mid-summer, the excitement rose once again as we waited for the raspberries. The first time we went, the whole family made it an adventure and together we drove out to the wild raspberry patch at my mom and dad's land that gives and gives. We traveled back once again, this time with my parents, and they made it such a fun day. My mom packed a picnic lunch for us, and we sat together on a blanket on the earth to enjoy it together. The summer sun was a hot one, and my dad walked the bigger kids down to the creek to splash around and play. They will remember those things; when they look back at their childhood, they'll remember going to "the land" to pick raspberries and playing in the crick with Bumpa.
When my grandpa invited me over to the farm to pick more berries from his garden patch, I couldn't say no. How can one ever turn away more berries? The big kids went inside with Grandma and they got to spend some time with the same wonderful lady in the same wonderful house that I spent so many of my childhood days. I got to stay outside in the raspberry patch with Grandpa, sharing a special moment with just the two of us. It was nearly sunset as we picked, and I enjoyed watching the sun set on the land that I love so much and watching Grandpa as he picked in the yard that he has lived in since he was a child. I took some time to really be present, to soak it in and remember the moment and feeling so that I could hold onto it forever.
And now we move into blackberry season. Today, I got my first memory of the season with my mom and baby K as we ventured back into the wilderness to a beautiful and bountiful blackberry patch. Sometimes we picked in silence, enjoying the sound of the woods around us. Sometimes we got deep into conversation, which is easy as I know that my mom is the only one who really knows my soul and who I am almost as well as I do. I soaked in the time with her, the sunshine, and the beauty of the day- a welcome get-away from the stressors of life that are now full fledge as we prepare to close on the house, as I start a new job, and as we continue our work on our house plans.
Every time I've picked berries, it's been so much more. I could go on and on about more memories I have from picking berries at the farm when I was little to watching a dear family friend pick berries at the edge of our yard for hours when I was young, to getting stuck in a blackberry bramble when picking with my dad. But, if I started, I'm afraid I'd never stop. Picking berries is always more than picking berries...and I look forward to picking more very soon.
What are your memories of berry picking?
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