I suppose I was just old enough to hold a little cup on my own, the first time I went berry picking. My parents were avid pickers and they tromped in through the woods or over the bogs to gather whatever grew in the Newfoundland wild on the southern shore. We picked blackberries, raspberries, partridgeberries, blueberries and bakeapples. In late August or early September, we’d pack up our pails and a lunch and make a day of it out on the barrens. We’d daydream of eating blueberry pies, partridgeberry muffins or bakeapple tarts with a dab of fussels cream. You really had to focus on the prize, otherwise, the black flies would drive you completely off your head.
We’d return to our favourite spots every year and the berries would always magically reappear. Of course, there’d be the annual quality comparison to the year before. “Any size to ‘em?” would be the question from other pickers, once we got back to the community. Your answer depended on your willingness to share the bounty.
I had hung up my berry picking bucket as a teenager and young adult. In recent years, though, my desire for the anti-oxidant rich blueberry has rekindled my enthusiasm. I need enough for a year’s worth of smoothies and blueberry crisps! The edible benefits are obvious, but as I get older I realize what a special tradition we have here. In a world with over crowded cities and price tags attached to just about everything you need, berry picking is one of those activities that proves the old adage true: the best things in life are free. There aren’t many places where you can stroll through the woods, plunk yourself down in front of a bush full of fruit and pick or eat to your heart’s content. You don’t need a ticket, a parking pass or a membership to the berry picking club. All you need are two feet, a heartbeat and a tupperware container. “Fill yer boots!” as we say here in Newfoundland. That might make the walk back to the car a little tricky, though. Fill your bucket instead.
Until next time, rove on.