Picking pail of saskatoons a great afternoon

By Treena Mielke

Black Press

It wouldn’t be summer without heading out to a berry patch to do a little old-fashioned berry picking.

Picking a scrumptious ice cream pail full of Saskatoons seemed like a fun and productive way to spend a few hours in-between supper and before bed.

So, once the dishes were done and the kitchen looked respectable, we grabbed our pails and headed out the door.

I didn’t pick a lot when I was a kid, but I’m sure I most certainly popped a delicious berry or two in my mouth.

Just like any kid who grew up in Alberta, I knew about saskatoons. I knew they were plump and juicy and tasted like more.

As we drove along the bumpy gravel road out to my friend’s acreage where saskatoons grew in great numbers, I thought fondly about my mother-in-law. She was the queen of berry picking.

In the summer, we would drive what seemed like forever to visit her. Along the way, our children would chant ceaselessly ‘are we there yet?’ As we drove, it seemed like ‘there’ would never arrive.

But, finally we arrived, driving into a barnyard complete with a shaggy black and white dog named Blue, who lived mostly in the porch, but sometimes in the yard and was very good at rounding up cattle and once-in-a-while, wayward children.

And when the car pulled to a stop, we would spill out and walk into grandma’s kitchen where it seemed, more often than not, her table was laid with bowls of saskatoons, a jar of fresh cream, and homemade bread just out of the oven.

I loved that woman. I smile as I remember.

We arrive at my friend’s acreage and spot her, already out picking, her bowl almost full.

We hurry to catch up, reaching up to grab the high branches because that seemed to be where the best grape-like clusters of plump juicy berries were hanging.

We traveled up and down the bushes, picking and eating and chatting. Soon our lips and fingers were satisfactorily stained berry juice blue and we were blissfully content.

Finally, the Saskatoon bushes and golden canola fields beyond them, that stretched on endlessly to meet the horizon, were blurred to a gentle softness by the quiet shades of twilight.

It was time to go home.

We gathered up our berries and ourselves and waved goodbye to our friend and drove our old pick-up truck out of her gravel driveway.

While we are driving home, I visualize pies, cooked to perfection, with dark blue juice oozing out of a golden crust and cobblers, feather light and crumbly and a freezer full of carefully stored fruit. This of course, was quite an ambitious visualization, as my ice cream pail is barely full.

But, it never hurts to dream.

And really, one berry picking trip could simply be the start of more berry picking excursions. After all, the first step of a berry-picking journey begins with a single ice cream pail. And from there who knows where it will end.

I arrive home and walk out onto my deck and happen to look out at our cherry tree.

Oh, my goodness! I see it’s branches are exploding with fruit.

So, obviously the next berry picking journey will be right in my own back yard.

And it will have to be soon. Very soon.

Already my visualization has become a reality. It is obvious I will have more berries than I know what to do with before the summer is over.

I just have to get busy and start picking.

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review.

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