nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘berry picking

wild strawberries to pick

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In the field around our cabin, the wild strawberries are ready for picking. Red, sweet, delicious.

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‘wild strawberries’ Jane Tims 2016

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If you love picking berries, or eating those first dew-covered berries of summer, you will like my book of poems about gathering and eating wild local foods.

‘within easy reach’ is published by Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock, New Brunswick. The book is illustrated with my drawings and includes lots of information about each wild plant mentioned. The book is available here at Chapel Street Editions or here at Amazon.ca

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For another of my posts about wild strawberries, and a poem about picking wild strawberries, look here.

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

growing and gathering – value

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These days I am working to complete my manuscript of poems on the subject of ‘growing and gathering’ local foods.

As I sort my poems, I find several are about the ‘value’ of wild plants as food.

Sometimes this value is simple value for money.  Every cup of blueberries I pick is one I don’t have to buy.  When I pick enough berries to freeze, I can have blueberries or blackberries when they cost a fortune to buy fresh at the store.  I am also bringing the warm summer and its memories forward into the chill of winter.

A few of my poems focus on the value of substitution.  For example, I will never run out of tea leaves for my daily tea break.  I have Pineapple Weed, Sorrel and Sweet-fern teas to make.  Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, and my own little herb garden, I have a rack of fresh herbs drying, including Camomile and several varieties of Mint.  If I run out of salad ingredients, I have a stash of salad greens just outside my door.

Storage is the subject matter of a few of my poems.  When I was young, my Mom showed us how to collect Spruce Gum from the trees for a sticky but tasty chew.  During my project, I learned that some woodsmen make little wooden boxes for the gum, to keep it for later use.  I also have a few poems about making jelly and jam.

Thinking about the value of food, I can’t forget the people for whom growing and gathering local foods is an occupation, not just a ‘hobby’.  I have written poems about the people who sell shad and fiddleheads and lobster from their roadside trucks, about children who earn their summer money by picking and selling berries, and, of course, about the farmer.

Last but not least, there is just the joy of finding or producing and eating your own food.  I always say, the best part of a home garden is the taste of the first carrot or the snap of the first wax bean!

What do you think is the greatest value associated with growing and gathering local foods?

 
Warning: 
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

©  Jane Tims  2012

growing and gathering

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Many of my recent posts are associated with my writing project, ‘growing and gathering’.   My aim is to write a poetry manuscript about collecting and producing local foods.  So far, I have concentrated on ‘edible wild plants’ in my blog, but the full scope of the project will include poems on gardening and other aspects of aquiring local foods.

My process so far has included research into a particular wild plant, a trip to see it in the wild and perhaps gather it for eating, a piece of prose on the characteristics of the plant, a pencil drawing (becoming more and more a part of my thought process), and a poem or poems about the edible plant.

As my project progresses, I am generating many poems.  I am also starting to think about how I will assemble this information into a manuscript.

One of the first steps toward assembling the manuscript is to decide what themes are emerging.   This will help me decide how the poems relate to one another, as well as identify the gaps.

Major themes so far are:

~ companionship (for example, picking berries with a friend)

the results of an hour of blackberry picking with my husband

~ competition (for example, trying to get those hazelnuts before the squirrels)

hazelnuts on the tree…almost ripe…who will get them, the squirrels or me?

~ time (this includes historical uses of wild edibles, as well as seasonal and lifetime components of eating local)

a ‘graveyard’ of old apple trees

~ ethics (this includes ecosystem concerns about eating wild plants when they are struggling to survive in reduced habitat)

a patch of Trout Lily in the hardwoods… edible… but should I harvest when this type of habitat is disappearing?

~ barriers to gathering local foods (for example, why do I buy bags of salad greens when Dandelion greens, Violet leaves and Wood-sorrel grow right outside my door?)

a salad of Dandelion greens and Purple Violets

In my upcoming posts, I want to explore each of these themes.

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berry picking

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fingers stain indigo

berry juice as blood

withdrawn by eager

thorns

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berry picking sticks

to me, burrs

and brambles

hooks and eyes

inseparable as

contentment and picking berries

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even as I struggle

berries ripen

shake free

fall to ground

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©  Jane Tims  2012

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

an afternoon in the blueberry field

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blueberries ripening

One of my favourite places to be is a blueberry field.  Nothing is better than lying on your back between islands of blueberry bushes, watching clouds build in the sky and munching on newly picked blueberries.

When I was young, I spent lots of time picking blueberries with my Dad, in the pasture behind my grandfather’s farm.  I can still see his hands deftly stripping berries from each branch, and hear the staccato ripple of berries filling his pail.  My picking was considerably slower and less productive.  In my pail, the berries spoke in single plinks, each separated by several seconds of silence.

Later, when I was a teenager, I went once with my Mom to pick blueberries on our neighbour’s hillside.  My berry picking skills had not improved and I know I ate more than I picked.  But how I wish I could spend, just one more time, that afternoon with my Mom, picking blueberries on a sun-washed hill.

Today, I pick blueberries every summer, in the field near our cottage. Since I am usually the only one picking, I now aim to be efficient.  Sometimes I use my blueberry rake to strip the berries from the branches, quickly and with little waste.  Of course, this means picking through the berries by hand, removing leaves and other debris.  But the ripe berries are still blue and sweet, and plump with the warmth and fragrance of August.

This poem is in remembrance of my Mom and our afternoon of picking blueberries:

 

Bitter Blue

of all the silvery summer days we spent   none so warm   sun on

granite boulders   round blue berry field  miles across hazy miles

away from hearing anything but bees

and berries

plopping in the pail

beside you   I draped my lazy bones on bushes   crushed berries and

thick red leaves over moss dark animal trails nudged between rocks

baking berries brown   musk rising to meet blue heat

or the still fleet scent

of a waxy berry bell

melting in my mouth   crammed with fruit   sometimes pulled from

laden stems   more often scooped from your pail full ripe blue pulp

and the bitter shock of a hard green berry never ripe

or a shield bug

with frantic legs

and an edge to her shell

Published as: ‘Bitter Blue’, Summer 1993, The Amethyst Review 1 (2)

© Jane Tims

Warning: 
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

Written by jane tims

July 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

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