Saturday, July 03, 2010

Berry Good Boys

Early July has long meant tradition for me. I'm not talking about the traditional parade or trip to see fireworks for the Fourth, though those have their place.

The tradition I cherish deeply is that of picking blueberries on a warm, sunny, July morning -- and sharing it with others.

Growing up, naturally, I shared this tradition with the Chef Mother, and we picked for a couple of hours in order to fill the freezer with fresh berries for wintertime muffins or pancakes or other treats.

Since coming here, I've found friends over the years who were interested in joining me for a berry-picking excursion: first the fantastic Phoenix, and now the Southern Belle and My Adorable Nephews.

Last year was the first time the nephews joined me for the adventure, and they enjoyed it thoroughly. For them, an hour of picking blew by so fast, they could hardly stand to leave. This year, then, they were old pros, and they knew everything I wanted to remind them about: avoid the poison ivy, pick the deepest bluest berries, and enjoy one or two along the way.

As you can see, they got off to a great start and never once faltered. By the end of the hour, the four of us had picked five quarts of berries, cleaning out the first part of a row, both high and low.

I returned home with them and did some work in the garden -- mainly digging up garlic and the saddest-looking potato plants -- before we all sat down to a hearty lunch of pizza, salad, and fresh berries. Scooter announced a couple of times that these were "the best berries ever!" and that he really, really liked them. (Beaker agreed, as did their infant brother, who gobbled up a handful of cut berries and was later found to have the remaining few decorating his bottom.)

They planned to eat some of theirs fresh and to freeze most for later, while I froze some and also poured two-plus pints onto my dehydrator trays for drying.

And I think we're all berry happy with the results.

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