What says summer to you? Is it being able to go swimming at the beach, barbecuing in the backyard or just savouring the tastes of the season? For me its berry season. You know what I mean, it’s when the raspberries and strawberries are ready for picking. Nothing is better than picking berries from your own backyard and I am lucky to have a yard large enough to do so. Every summer from the time I was 12 I would jump on my bike and ride to the strawberry fields a mile away. Here I would work picking berries for about 25 cents per flat. When I think back now, it seems like a small stipend but then it must have given me a sense of pride earning my own money. It was tough learning the ropes of strawberry picking. I remember little old Asian women pointing at my half-ripe strawberries, saying “No,no!” I quickly learned that green berries were not acceptable. The fields where I picked berries are now a golf course and housing as the land slipped away to development. Now the only berry picking by children is that done with their parents on Westham Island, our mecca of rich farmland where every berry you can imagine is grown. Now when I go pick berries I am amused watching city slickers that have come from Vancouver, our closet big city. They rarely dress for the occasion and it’s quite comical watching them in their sandals trying to carefully step over bushes so they don’t get their feet dirty. Now don’t get me wrong, I was once a city girl. We would come out here every weekend to get berries just as I watch people do now. Picking strawberries is a down on your knees kind of job. Doesn’t everyone scoot along the dirt while they pick?
Anyway let’s get back to the berries. Not only do I love berries of all kinds but I also love what I can make from them. Summer is also jam making season for me and I love to share this time with my daughters. Passing along traditions is important and I am lucky that they want to learn.
Last year even hubby got into the act as I was not able to walk so moving that canner full of boiling water was a man job last year. He was quite proud of himself learning how to make jam for the first time.
We made strawberry, blackberry, blueberry and tayberry jam. Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry and they are delicious. The aroma of berries cooking and the sounds of laughter as we all fight for space in the kitchen. That’s what summer is all about.
I am lucky to have berries in the garden. My raspberries took a sudden death a couple of years ago. We suspect a root rot but will never be sure. Were we surprised when we saw some new shoots sprouting in a different area of the garden. Okay, it was under my quince tree and not the best place. The raspberry shoot must have been transplanted by accident when we moved another plant. So here we are two years later with a new crop of raspberries in a new location. Now that was just luck. If Mother Nature intended them to be there then they will stay. Besides, the quince acts as a support for the raspberries so it’s a win, win situation.
Okay, all this talk about berries has me wanting to go get some gooseberries. How I could go for some gooseberry crisp on a hot summer day. If you want my recipe It is over here. Summer here is short and filled with so much to harvest. Get your harvest of berries while they are available.