I’ve learned a few things while picking saskatoons, the sweet purple/red fruit of the saskatoon bush currently in season in Manitoba. These lessons may or may not be transferable to other endeavors.
1.Picking in a patch someone has discovered before you is slow hard picking. It’s akin to poor biblical Ruth gathering leftover grain behind the field harvesters. (My middle name is Ruth.) Nevertheless, dessert for supper can also be secured, if slowly, from one-here-one-there berries missed by the people who came before.
2. You can waste a lot of time picking a mediocre bush when there’s a gorgeous, loaded one just around the corner. Sometimes it helps to get the lay of the land before you begin.
3. The biggest, sweetest berries may be out of reach on the highest branches. Nevertheless, saskatoon branches are supple, they bend. They like to bear fruit and seem quite willing, even eager, to be picked.
4.Unless, of course, they’re entwined in the branches of a stubborn old oak. Then they won’t come down to you and the berries will laugh and taunt you with their inaccessibility.
5. There’s a berry-picking personality (BPP): slightly obsessive (just this bush yet, oh, and that one…); persistent (of course I can fill these containers and I refuse to leave until I do); and lover of exquisite wild taste and a bargain to boot (they’re here, they’re delicious, they’re free!). I’m all of them. I get it from my dad. I’ve been thinking about him a lot these days. If he were alive and picking, we’d be an indomitable team. Even branches tangled in oaks would bow.
Non-BPP types, of whom the beloved H. is one, pick in a somewhat desultory manner, no urgency at all. They’re very good company, however, if the BPP finds berry bushes in a somewhat isolated area while camping and has a niggling fear of bears. (He would take on a bear, wouldn’t he?)
6. If you come with 2 containers, hoping to fill them, and you do, that’s enough. It’s what you wanted and you got it. Really, it’s enough!
7. If you go for a walk in the woods or park during berry season, bring some sort of container. (Even a baggie will do.) The garbage receptacles where you scrounge for anything to hold your harvest will have been emptied just before you come. If the berries are not in season, of course, the receptacles will be overflowing with cups and fast food cartons.
8. Be very careful where you set your full or nearly full containers of berries, and watch where you put your feet. A truly terrible pity it is, spilling all the work you’ve gone to the trouble of.
9. There’s a huge pleasure to be had in sliding clumps of juicy, sweet, purple-ripe berries into your hand and into your container. And in saskatoons over cereal or oatmeal or yogurt or vanilla bean ice-cream. And in saskatoon pie.
In sharing what you’ve learned about berry picking, you’ve also shared about yourself, and I’ve learned something new about you. You are a BPP! So am I! And I also have great memories of going saskatoon picking with my dad in the coulees just outside of the small Alberta town (Didsbury) in which I grew up. I would give anything to go with him just one more time!
I suspect there’s quite a few of us, actually! I had a cute note from our mutual artist friend in a state south of us who is seriously afflicted as well, but has 12 kg. of berries in the freezer to show for it. (They call them june berries there.)
Do you do chokecherries too? If so, pick a basket for me.
I’ve certainly seen them in my wanderings, all purple and ready, but my mouth puckers at the thought!
“Alive and picking.” Made me smile.
Thanks, Dora! I picked my first-ever saskatoons last weekend. I was somewhat disappointed they weren’t as prolific as B.C. blackberries. But that made the victory of picking a large enough handful for saskatoon pancakes even sweeter!
Mmmmm…my mouth is watering! It’s been ages since I’ve actually picked (I was probably more along the type of picker as H.!), but we enjoy the fruits (pun intended!) of Ken’s parents’ labours all winter long…especially in our pancakes!
Clever, creative and fun! ?BPP – not me (tongue in cheek)