Saturday, September 10, 2011
A Country Girl at Heart
Donald and I recently picked blackberries while the shadows lengthened on a particularly warm day. As we approached the canes, the purple smell of sun-warmed berries hung heavily on cooling air, every bite a gentle ooze of summer sweetness. Plink, plinks and then, soft thud, thuds as the ripe fruit fills our blackberry bucket. Since most things serve double duty in an RV, its alternate life is my pasta pot.
I have picked so many berries in the last week that I fear my cuticles may permanently stay a sickly blue-gray. Himalayan blackberries grow wild everywhere here and most folk work diligently to keep the invasive vines out of their yards. I, on the other hand, see them as a free and delicious food source. We've made several cobblers (enjoyed piping hot with cream for breakfast or stone cold with cream for lunch - it doesn't last long enough to become dessert!), muffins, pancakes and last night, I made jam.
Picking fruit, baking and homemade jam make me happy. It's what you do when you grow up in the country; it's as annual as Christmas and nearly as important. Whenever I hear the distinctively tinny "Pop" of a jar sealing itself I hear my Mom's canning motto: "There's the most satisfying sound in the world!" Because this simplicity warms my country girl heart it will come as no surprise to you that I am now employed, part time and just for the harvest, at a local apple orchard.
The job sort of fell into my lap through my friend Becky, who has worked at Beilke Family Farms for the last four harvests. When the Beilke's asked her if she knew anyone crazy enough to want a temporary, part time job, she immediately thought of her friend Denise, who immediately said yes! 92 year old Grandpa Beilke keeps the farm immaculate, driving his Gator everywhere, but not always in a straight line, due to failing eyes, and crooking his finger at me for help with a job. The orchard is already pungent with the pong of fallen apples and will be resplendent when the colours begin to change. And I get to roam freely, happily munching Honey Crisps and Pink Ladies while helping the Russians stock up for winter. I'm a lucky girl to work outside in such a place of beauty where I get paid to walk and eat apples! I'll feel even luckier when I make applesauce!