Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Berry Pickin` Time!!
Last Sunday was a GLORIOUS day in the mountains of North central Pennsylvania!!
The humidity had left the air, the wind was bouncing the leaves on the trees and it wasn`t raining! We`ve had a tremendous amount of rain this summer so a dry sunny day combined with a light work load meant fun time outside for all three goatherders, yodeling and non-yodeling!
I hurried to get my light housework done and hubby scurried to do some chores for his mother in the morning so we could be free and clear for the afternoon. During the past week Mr. Yodeling had mentioned that he had seen the black berries were getting ripe and he asked as we ate lunch if we ladies would like to go berrying. We sure did! What could be better than a few hours spent in the beautiful woods of the Keystone state?
We gathered our official berry gathering equipment, a five quart plastic ice cream tub and some Cool-Whip dishes and headed off for our neighbors woods, with their permission of course.
As you can see from the above picture most of the land in our neck of the woods is hilly, or ‘sidling’ as we Ridgerunner`s call it. (Example of Ridgerunner speak-‘That dog`ll have two legs shorter on one side living on this sidling hill.’)
The first sound to greet us as we began the climb was the distinctive snort of a white-tailed deer. He, or she, snorted at the three interlopers into their wood twice and although we never caught a glimpse of the buck or doe it was nice to know it was nearby and watching us.
It didn`t take long to find the first patch of berries along that old logging road and the race was on! It was girls vs. boys. Boy. But my daughter and I immediately noticed our weakness, one that would cost us the coveted berry pickin` crown. We ladies weren`t willing to wallow into the deepest thickets like some bruin the way my husband was. So we had to content ourselves with less berries but also less blood loss and considerably less expletives. We may lose but we`d win in the long run!
As we worked our way up we came upon a huge patch of blackberries that looked as if a giant had stepped into it, flattening a good ten by fifteen foot area down to the ground. It wasn`t a giant that had done the damage though, it was the tell-tale sign of a black bear having a grand old time of berry pickin` himself!
Who can blame the ebony bruin for wanting to feast on such succulent treats? My daughter and I moseyed into the thicket picking the choicest berries Mr. Bear had left behind, chatting and giggling at hubby`s steady litany of yips and yelps and disparaging remarks aimed at brambles. As we picked and admired our ever-increasing yields we were graced by a visit from a ruby-throated hummingbird. He eyed us for a moment, hovering in the bright sun resplendent in his iridescent finery then decided that we two blossoms weren`t quite the flowers he was searching for and off he went in a blur of whipping wings.
Soon my husband tugged himself free from the brambles to join us and of course compare buckets.*Sigh.* Yes, I`ll admit now that he may have won in sheer berry weight but we two girls maintain that it was we who were the winners since we didn`t look like we went round robin with a bobcat. I think that gives us the edge don`t you?
All totaled we ended up with close to three quarts of ripe blackberries, and some very purple fingers! Not too shabby for a couple hours work we all concurred deciding to call this excursion a success and head home.
As we were making our way down the hill to our truck still teasing Mr. Yodeling Goatherder about his scratched arms and belly we heard the thundering wings of one of our state birds, the ruffed grouse, as he exploded from the forest behind us.
Now I know in this day and age of instant messaging and Twitter that a few hours spent out in the wilds may not seem like much fun. Many would be lost without their cell phone and their text messaging. And I realize that as much as I do love the internet and the wonderful friends I`ve made on the world wide web there is something about having a few hours with your family without the modern necessities that is deeply fundamental. No technology can compete with your child’s laughter or the fresh smell of mountain air…..at least for this yodeling goatherder.
Now if I can just get some of those berries before my bear of a husband eats them all!