My childhood memories are filled with images of myself hanging out in the woods across the street from my home. There are winter images, but most of my memories are from early spring to late fall. When the snow disappeared, the arbutus bloomed. Cutting one or two of these fragrant flowers for my mom was a sign spring had arrived and the picking seasons were soon to follow.
In early summer, the rhubarb sprouted in Mankee’s backyard, and I, along with the neighborhood kids, sat on the concrete retaining wall debating which was better, with or without sugar. Not much longer after the rhubarb, we all picked the yellow dandelions growing in our yards which my dad and I fermented into wine. It took me a few years to realize dandelions are similar to raspberries; their weight causes them to continually push down upon themselves and never reach the top of the coffee can. No wonder none of us ever won the “Who Can Fill Their Coffee Can First?” Contest.
Dad and I also squashed strawberries, raspberries, chokecherries, and fall cherries for winemaking. My mom would pick the strawberries and raspberries, but Dad and I would walk around Lake Angeline, his childhood woods, for the other berries. There would also be a trip for apple picking which allowed me to pretend to be a monkey trying to reach the top, prized apples for mom to bake into homemade pies and even applesauce. Even with all of these choices though, my favorite picking season was, and still is, blueberry season.
Blueberries are known as a super food, but for me, blueberries are a super food in another way too. I’m not one to pick for hours on end, but an hour or two a day helps keep the psychologist away. It may be the natural surroundings, or knowing my freezer will soon be full of a super food I can eat in my morning oatmeal or use when I wear my baking hat.
The sound of those first berries hitting the bottom of the 5-quart ice cream bucket brings a joy I can’t explain. Maybe it’s knowing that I can fill this bucket unlike my dandelion can. Maybe it’s the abundance of berries (don’t ask me where though—I protect that secret like a fisherman protects her favorite fishing spot). Maybe it’s knowing the season can last for a few weeks, not just a few days. Maybe it’s genetic. Whatever it is, I’m happy my freezer is almost full, and I’m headed out again tomorrow.