Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Let Me Take You Down.

My fingernails and fingers are pink like I have port-wine stains. I've been hulling strawberries for the last couple of days. My father is a U-Pick junkie, and on between Saturday the first and Monday the third, Dad brought home sixty-one boxes of berries. Mum was pissed because it forces her to process them right away before they start to turn, so I try to help by hulling. She then mashes them, boils them, and makes them into jars and jars and jars of jam for the winter. Well, the summer, too, I suppose. Dad eats a ton of homemade strawberry jam.

Dad grew up on a farm in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, and in the summers he would work as a strawberry picker. He learned how to quickly harvest the berries and that eating as you go cuts into your profit. Even today, when he brings home flat after flat of berries, when we ask him if they're any good, he doesn't know yet. He then hulls and slices a dozen berries and drowns them in skim milk. And that's the first taste he gets of four hours of picking.

It's the same way with blackberries, cranberries, partridgeberries, blueberries, and bakeapples. The last three berries are mostly found in burnt-over areas or bogs in Newfoundland, so it's a wonder Dad's not yet been carried away by a bear. Dad doesn't gather berries in measures of cups or half-litres. He goes into the wilderness with salt-beef buckets or industrial ice-cream buckets and comes back when they're full. The wild blueberries are my favourite. They pop! in your mouth.

6 comments:

Holly said...

I wonder if there is anyone from the Valley who hasn't worked as a picker of some sort (the popular ones being strawberries, apples and carrots) at one point or the other... My hat's off to your pop if he stuck with it more than the two days that most of us average.

Anonymous said...

Catherine! My Mom and I will be in PEI next week. I've been before, but I'd love some "must see" recommendations from a local!?

J. Sanders

Holly said...

King Tut's Tomb and Treasures?

Catherine said...

Ugh! No! Jenn, I'll drop you an email!

Holly said...

But what could possibly be better than KTT&T?

marilyn said...

my first (and hopefully only) year of missing dad's strawberry picking. Sigh, have a bowl for me!