nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘blueberries

more blueberries!

with 4 comments

Tomorrow, Saturday October 22, 2016, I am giving a reading of my book ‘within easy reach’ and a short talk about eating local foods, especially wild plants. The reading will be for a regional meeting of local chapters of the New Brunswick Women’s Institute. Their theme this year is ‘pulses’ and the nutritional benefits of eating beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas – foods harvested dry – affordable, protein-packed and delicious!

~

I will be reading poems from my book, taking the Institute members on a tour of local foods – from the forest floor to the field, to the garden and the farmers market, as well as foods grown inside the home kitchen.

~

I will also have a door prize for my reading, a painting of wild blueberries. ‘Sweet Hurts’ is 5″ X 7″ with gallery edges, done in acrylics using Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Titanium White, Paynes Grey and Burnt Sienna. The name ‘Sweet Hurts’ comes from an alternative name for the Low Sweet Blueberry.

~

dscf3346~

Looking forward to this reading, my fourth this month!

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

October 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

getting ready for fall – blueberries

with 2 comments

Another painting in my series! I could call the collection paintings to illustrate ‘within easy reach’ since each one was inspired by a poem in my book.

~

Blueberries are probably my favorite berry to pick. This could be because every summer, when my family visited Nova Scotia, we spent a week at my Grandfather’s blueberry farm. I picked blueberries with cousins, siblings and parents. I was never very good at the task but my idea of picking is one for the bucket, two for the mouth, so I guess you now know why I love picking blueberries!

~

This little painting was fun to do. I was inspired because I had just finished putting together freezer bags of blueberries from a big box we bought at McKay’s Wild Blueberry Farm Stand in Pennfield, New Brunswick (https://janetims.com/2012/08/04/blueberries/).

~

The painting is 10″ X 10″, gallery edges, acrylics, painted with Ultramarine blue, Cadmium yellow, Cadmium red, Burnt sienna and Titanium white.

~

DSCF2491

August 20, 2016 ‘pick faster’ Jane Tims

~

And, to accompany the painting, another sampling from the poems in my book ‘within easy reach’. My book of poems and drawings is available from my publisher http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com

~

~

pick faster

for Dad

~

blue ripens as morning, deft fingers

noisy pails, hail on metal gutters

this bush spent, unsatisfactory

berries over there fatter

bluer

~

I am certain I see, beside mine

my father’s hands, callused

and quick

~

berries roll between

thumb and fingers

I try to meet

his expectation

~

pick faster

~

~

~

within easy reach, Chapel Street Editions, 2016

Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

small scale economy – picking berries

with 6 comments

~

'five blue berries'

~

small-scale economy

~

my box of berries spilled

on the footpath,

between leaves

of Kalmia and wintergreen

hawkweed and cow pies

~

the cousins, their boxes brimming,

stood gawking, dismayed,

I was certain they were thinking

dumb city girl, spilled her berries

box only half full anyway

~

instead, they gathered around me

sympathy in every hand

scooped most of the berries

into the box

added a few from nearby bushes

~

seventeen cents he paid me

half the value of a box at full

the cousins had picked a crate or more,

remembered the wasted berries, left on the trail

and wept at the loss

~

~

Published as: ‘small scale economy’, Canadian Stories 16 (94), December 2013/ January 2014

Copyright 2014 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

competition for space

with 9 comments

One of the discouraging aspects of our lake property is how fast everything grows.  In 2005, we bought 7 1/2 acres of field…

in 2012, we have 7 1/2 acres of alders and young trees…

I actually like the lush vegetation and we intend to always keep the forest of trees down by the lake, to help protect the lake environment.  But we humans need a little room to move!!!  Although we knew we would eventually have more trees than field, we always thought we’d be able to:

  1. keep the road and turning area at the lake end of the property clear of weeds and wide enough for a vehicle
  2. keep the area around the camp clear
  3. have some trails for walking and access to the various parts of the property
  4. keep our blueberries – they have trouble competing with the taller vegetation
  5. begin to groom some specific groves of maple and birch
  6. keep a small area of field so I can watch the grasses blowing in the wind.

The farmer next door was willing, for a price, to continue bush-hogging the area, just as he had done for years.  But there were trees and various herbaceous species we wanted to keep, so we bravely set out to manage things on our own.

For me, that means snipping away with my shears.  I get tired/bored very easily, so I am not much help.  I mostly spend my time discovering new plants to protect and putting wooden stakes up to mark their position!

me with trimmers and marking plants with stakes

My husband has tried to keep back the growth with his bush-saw, and last year he was able to keep the road clear and even cut a new trail to access our blackberries.  But progress is slow and within a few weeks, the alders, saplings and weeds have all grown back!

Finally, we became so discouraged, we began to think of alternatives.  In the last two years, we have tried pulling the alders and I planted beans in the holes left all over the place.   The deer really enjoyed my bean plants!

Now, we have the solution.  We bought a rough mower that pulls behind the ATV.  It is awesome!  My husband has fun and is able to make huge progress.  In just a couple of days, we have our road clear, there is a labyrinth of trails where we can walk, we have trimmed a selection of blueberry patches and we have our turning area restored at the lake end of the property.   Notice the use of the word ‘we’, although my husband does all the work!

our new Agri-Fab Rough Cut Mower, designed for use behind an ATV

You can see the before and after shots of the road trimming in the three photos below.  What you can’t see in the middle photo is the smile on my husband’s face as he mows!  He was able to trim, in a few minutes, the trail it took him days to cut with the bush-saw last year.

Now, my husband can use his bush-saw time to work on his groves of maple and birch.

the first path cut by the new mower, to the right of the road

The only problem so far has been the hawthorns.  We had a very flat tire on the mower after the first day.  The man who fixed it said it looked like a porcupine on the inside, it had been punctured by so many thorns!  Now, we are having each tire filled with foam!

5 cm thorns on the Hawthorn easily punctured the mower tires

©  Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

August 22, 2012 at 7:24 am

Blueberries!

with 18 comments

I love blueberries and so I am very happy – our blueberries are blue and ready for the picking at our summer property.

There are two ways to pick blueberries, with your hands…

or with a rake…

My husband bought me my rake years ago, so I use it when there are lots of berries and most are ripe.  There is a bit of a knack to harvesting with a rake.  The ripe blueberries are loosened and captured with the tines of the rake.  The basic technique is to sweep the surface of the bushes, tipping the rake upward as you sweep, since the ripe berries fall into a tine-less part of the pan.  The experience of raking berries is very different from picking.  The process is less calm, although you do get into a rhythm.  Also, the tines of the rake vibrate as you sweep, making a lovely musical sound!

We compared the yields between picking and raking, and we get about five times as many berries per unit effort with the rake (I am sure professional rakers do much better than this).  The rake gets lots of leaves and debris along with the berries, so the time saved in raking instead of picking is lost in the cleaning (in a professional operation, the debris is removed with fans or another sorting method).

Although we have lots of berries on the property, they are getting fewer each year because the growth of other vegetation crowds the blueberry bushes.  But we have a backup plan!

We also travel to the southern part of the province where the berries are in full production this time of year.  Our preferred place to get blueberries by the box or by the pie is in Pennfield, at McKay’s Wild Blueberry Farm Stand.

We eat most of our own blueberries almost immediately.  They also freeze very well.  Our favorite way to use the berries is by making Blueberry Dumplings.

~

Blueberry Dumplings

two to three cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp. of sugar (more if you prefer a sweeter dish)
~

Bring the berries, sugar and water to a boil.

When the mixture is bubbling, turn down the heat.

Dumplings:

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. of shortening, cut into the flour/baking powder mixture
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk
~

Mix well and add by spoonfuls to the top of the cooking blueberries.

Cover the pan tightly with a lid (otherwise, you will have a blue-spattered stove).

Cook at low for about 12-15 minutes or until dumplings are fluffy and done in the middle.

Enjoy!

~

~

raking blueberries

~

the sweep of the rake, the berry

touch, the ring of the tines

vibrato in blue, duet with the wind

in the whispering  pines

~

~

©  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.
~

from the pages of an old diary – blueberries and other local foods

with 13 comments

My new writing project, ‘growing and gathering’, focuses on local foods and finding food close to home.

A source of information and inspiration for me is the set of my great-aunt’s diaries, written from 1943 to 1972.  From her diaries, I have a very good idea of how they obtained their food, and how they used local foods to supplement their needs.

Most of their food was obtained from the grocery store – in 1957, there was at least one grocery store in the community, and by 1967, they had an IGA.  There is no doubt some goods came from ‘away’.   For example, my great-aunt wrote about making coconut and pineapple squares for a Women’s Missionary Society meeting (Sept. 30, 1957).

Local goods, however. were used whenever possible.  For example, my great-aunt bought eggs from her sister, and chickens from her brother.  She also obtained vegetables and raspberries from her brother’s farm, apples from friends and relatives, deer meat from friends and relatives, and lobsters from Wallace, a near-by community.   By 1967, my great-aunt and great-uncle also kept a garden at her brother’s farm, a few miles away.

Obtaining local foods included picking local berries.  In July and August of 1957, my great-aunt went four times for wild blueberries.  Her gratitude and pleasure at getting these berries comes through in her words:  ‘ got quite a few’ (July 31, 1957) and ‘got a nice lot.’ (Aug. 21, 1957).  She also wrote about picking grapes and currants.

Some of the berries were eaten right away – for example, my great-aunt made a blueberry pie on August 1, 1957.  The rest was preserved for the winter.  On August 16, 1957 my great-aunt put up 5 quarts of blueberries, to supplement the applesauce, pears, peaches, sweet cucumber pickles, and tomato chow she mentions preparing on other days.  Others in the family also made preserves and shared them with her – in 1967, her nephew (my uncle) brought her three bottles of peach, apple and choke cherry jelly he had made.

~

~

an offering of berries

~

she stands on the stoop

offers a box

a brimming pint

of berries

~

I take her hand, we ripple

through the pasture, strew

blue ribbons over bushes, stir

a blueberry jelly sky, dance

with dragonflies

~

she waits on the stoop

her brow a riddle, please

take this gift, blueberries

in a simple

wooden

basket

~

~

 

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

the ideal property

with 4 comments

A few years ago, my younger brother lived in New Brunswick for a while and we were able to see him and my sister-in-law quite often.  We had some great times, camping one weekend on Grand Manan, watching Survivor together, seeing their terrific Christmas decorations, and just visiting.

One of the weekends I remember well was our drive to see their new property along the St. John River.  Although they eventually sold the property, it remains one of the best plots of land I have ever seen.  My poem will tell you why!

~

~

Land For Sale

~

waterfront

two acres

one of cleared field

one of woods

silver maple, curly fern, rocky shore

transparent water and wobbling waves

an island over there

(conservation land)

(no buildings to intercept

the view)

~

plans manifest

the house here

the driveway    a garden    a gate

a path through the maples

to the shore and a dock

two good-natured chairs

turned toward one another

skating in January     bonfires in July

promising neighbours

reasonable price

~

and the clincher?

the deal maker?

the heart breaker?

a crooked bush

with five fat blueberries

ready to pick

~

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 2011

Written by jane tims

November 14, 2011 at 6:27 am

%d bloggers like this: