This afternoon I went gathering. I speculate that I must come from a long line of gatherers, women who kept their families alive on the food they were able to collect in the wild. Some people find berry picking tedious, tiring, trivial. But for me, picking berries is one of the great joys of summer, celebrating one of the true wonders of creation. Time well spent.
So today I hiked into the Allegheny National Forest, following a trail that I read about on a flier 17 years ago. I don't know how many people frequent this berry patch, but there are always plenty of berries for those who are willing to hike the uneven ground through prickers and swampland, over rocks and roots. When my children were small we used to make up our own version of Going on a Bear Hunt based on our berry picking adventure.
When I got home, I made these blueberry earrings. I'm looking forward to blueberry pancakes, blueberry buckle, blueberries on my granola...
In a few years, maybe my grand-niece Hazel will be old enough to join me when I go gathering. First we'll read Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal. She'll have a little bucket to fill, so she can hear kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. Maybe she'll cover the bottom, so she stops hearing that sound. Or maybe she'll eat them all, and not have any to take home for next winter. I hear that Hazel is already browsing through the low-bush blueberries near her own house. I wonder if she has that gathering gene?