At about 9am yesterday morning I bought some wild black raspberries at our tiny farmer’s market. Gladly I paid three dollars for the large container. I know the young person selling the berries and I know she found them growing wild in this immediate area. As soon as I saw the berries I immediately thought of my mom and her berry picking excursions that usually included me very much against my will. At this point I started telling the group of neighbours gathered at the teeny market about some of the very close to the surface memories of my mom. They suggested I write about these preserved thoughts and as I have had a patch of dried up and fruitless writing lately I turned on the computer .I picked my usual late hours to produce this mixture of plucked recollections, revised a few words here and there and went by my old recipe of writing from the heart.
Throughout her youth, maturity and old age my mom was in tune with the seasons and made the very most of every available harvest. Berry picking was one of the most tedious things I could think of doing as I was not as motivated as she was by the hard work, strain, heat, exhaustion and endless boxes of berries from our own patch or from other commercial sources. I would rather read, act out stories, play with our puppies and daydream.
Despite this attitude I continued as the many years went by to suggest to mom that if she would like to go berry picking I would go along or drive her to a local “upick” place as I knew it would be fun for her. Once we were driven by a farmer to the very back of a huge field and dropped off for the day so she could pick to her heart’s content. She was well over ninety years old, decked out in shorts and long sleeved shirt with a berry pail attached to her waist with a belt and jauntily wearing a sun hat and her favourite white nurse’s shoes and ankle socks. She was pretty impressive and caught the attention of several younger pickers working their way down the enormous patch. When she saw student pickers taking a break and resting she gave them a piece of her mind and told them they better get busy picking berries if they wanted to make any money. My job was to run the boxes of berries she picked to the end of the rows so they could be gathered up at the end of the day’s pickathon.That day my legs ached and I sweltered in the heat in total sympathy with the student pickers but she seemed content and very proud indeed of her huge harvest. We drove around later to show the relatives what she had picked like it was some kind of athletic achievement to have the entire car full of stacked flats of berries !
Another time at another upick farm and she was in awe of the size of the operation. It was almost impossible to get her to leave the place. She seemed to feel it was her responsibility to pick over the already picked rows to glean the berries missed by others. I pointed out that other rows were untouched and just hanging with ripe fruit but she was determined to give these so called picked rows another going over just for the challenge of finding berries other people, unskilled in extreme berrypicking missed entirely. She stood by our car finally with all the berries we picked and was a bit miffed at having to pay the required full price by the owner.She had a point. These berries were the ones left by others, under the leaves and close to the ground. They had been picked and salvaged, saved from waste by her expertise. These berries had been given the treatment her own berry patch was used to, a thorough going over, a picked patch, a job well done.
Again I was glad to finally get her out of there and home for supper. After eating a warmed up dinner of leftovers and several cups of strong tea and a soup bowl of fresh berries with sugar and milk we would face the cleaning and snuffing of the berries. I would sometimes help for a short time and then beg off to go home with excuses of lesson planning or childcare responsibilities. Mom would spend hours cleaning, snuffing, preserving and freezing the fruit, well into the night and totally pleased with her product. These berries made their way into pies and jam for the family and anyone else who would drop in for a visit.
The work she loved on the farm was like this every single day. Involved, committed, determined it was like an industrial project yet fuelled by her love of nature, gardening, farming and family. There were many such excursions and many similar experiences with home-grown fruit and vegetables . All of them are ripe memories just bursting forth at the moment, poised and ready to be simply touched, held and admired for what they are worth. They are inspired by the one box of wild black raspberries gleaned in the bushes and brambles by my young neighbour, undaunted by mosquitoes and the heat. I think I got a deal.
Filed under books, cooking, family relationships, food, friends, gardening, health and wellness, history, humour, inspiration, motivation, pets, retirement, routines, storytelling
The dog moves back
A dog in a bit of a crisis because her father is soon packing
a light bag of socks
and maybe a change of business
a plane trip or two
her with me
Arrangements to pack up the dog for the final leg of the journey to her new, exciting and distant home, her vast collection of chew bones, her crate and moderately smelly dog bed have yet to be finalized.
She has no idea
of these plans except for the odd flurry
in her usually quiet and calm hangout
in the artsy village
change is upon us
Inspiration can come along in many ways and today it was in the country library. It was a combination of several things such as the neat and orderly setting, the book lined walls and the familiar folk gathered there . The author we all celebrated there today is a gentle speaking, delightful senior that held our interest and also charmed our hearts with her book launch.
This writer has been writing a variety of articles and material for many years. She is published and has been nominated for awards. Today, she read from her most recent book which just happens to be historical fiction. It is rich with material from her own heritage as well as her knowledge of farming in the pioneer days.
The energy in the library, as she lead us through the chosen excerpt from her book was the kind of sensation you feel when something meaningful happens on a very good day and all seems for the moment peaceful, calm and positive. Being part of the group there today and enjoying the overall experience I came to the realization that she had given me a boost as a writer but I think there were connections with everyone gathered there.
Respectful admiration, community and family support, good humour, down to earth conversation and practical discussion were the artistic vibrations resonating in the small but packed to the gills rural library today. Chairs had to be brought in from the nearby hall to accommodate the crowd, all of her books were purchased, signed and her own son gave up his own copy to a delighted fan and it was all topped off with a delicious cake ( made by her daughter, no doubt) and glasses of cider. We were all there to celebrate the love of writing that this author shared with us.
That is what I felt in the room and I can best describe it as inspiration. A young person in attendance today shared her appreciation of this author with me and it was glowing, enthusiastic and appreciative. Now, that’s energy!
Extension cords in a bundle are heaped on the mudroom bench and three garden rakes lean against the wall in the television room. A truck load of new lumber wrapped in places with duct tape and hammered with a few nails landed in my back yard and helpful neighbours have carried it away to repair their own projects. Other things such as a fat suit and a play sword have just been returned to a dance group. A few useful things such as a small carpet, flashlights and a one dollar charity shop lamp ended up in my son’s apartment. Some things were trashed and some were donated. A few boxes of things are still in the car. A rehearsal hall fan, purchased by me is stored away,somewhere. These things, related by their usefulness in a recent play directed by my son seem almost charged still with some kind of weird energy, like the props and costumes in my years and years and years old dramatic play collection, now totally dispersed. My long acquired collection was for school kids. This recent collection was for theatre.
Something else has arrived here waiting to be dealt with when the energy builds to face it. A form of anti-climatic mood lingers around the place like a distant relative, familiar, welcome enough but a bit tiring after an over extended stay. Time for it to go, run along, clean up after itself,” toodle-loo” and close the door. Routine needs to be enforced and motivation in the form of new projects, hard work and completed tasks should alter the clingy mood sighing to itself in the little piles of stuff in the mudroom and also in the back of the car.
Tomorrow is a new day. Up at sunrise. Clear the decks. Green tea (gag/trying to be healthy), journals, coffee ( finally), emails, scrambled eggs ( with hot sauce) and toast, garden rakes and extension cords. Then clean the car and put the boxes in the mudroom to sit for days and days and days.
Filed under friends, health and wellness, history, humour, inspiration, motivation, retirement, routines, storytelling, theatre, weather, writing
Two small notebooks are ready to be filled with titles, names and notes about interesting books I hear about and then try to find either through second hand book stores, regular bookstores and the library. I don’t use the ” big river” to get my books, you know the one. I think that is just too much of a modern thing for me to do so I am content with my tried and sometimes effective method of finding these books and authors. There are so many choices that I am usually satisfied with what I get .
Sometimes there is a dry spell or a lull between finding a really good book and I feel at loose ends without something to hold my interest. It isn’t usually for long. There are two full bookcases of my own collection to satisfy any period of being temporarily lost for a good book. Often during these lulls I hit the cookbook bookcase in another part of the house and usually find hours of good reading there. I often would rather read vintage cookbooks than anything else.
Then, of course there are my really old books kept on their own shelves in another bookcase in my bedroom way out of reach of any curious pets such as the book destroying bulldog I am babysitting at the moment. My collector books would also be good for entertainment during a month full of blizzards if that ever should occur and I can’t get my fresh supply of literature from my usual sources.
When my young neighbour comes in to visit she always asks me if I really do read all of the books that I have and I tell her the truth. Some I haven’t read yet but they are just waiting like emergency supplies for the right time to be read. Some of the books I have read several times. Some of the books I read every year as a seasonal ritual.
None of my books are the trendy fresh ones as they don’t appeal to me when they are all hyped up and popular in the media. I may be drawn to them later when I find them in a discount barrel at a bookstore or at a garage sale and I will take them home then to read, or leave propped on a shelf for a rainy day.
I don’t always finish reading a book if it doesn’t appeal to me because life is just too short to be bored or put off by a book when there are so many good books somewhere to be found and treasured. Ruthless, I toss an unappealing book and pick up another hoping for the best. Whether I read it or not is my call.
It is a good thing that I’m not a book reviewer, a bookstore owner or a librarian because I would be too hard on the material and probably ruffle feathers. However, the ones that I like would be praised to the hilt and I would use my powers of persuasion to encourage others to try them. It just wouldn’t be fair though. I will leave that for the more courageous and outspoken individuals who make these reviews and judgements in good conscience. ( I bet that ruffles a few feathers right there.)
My taste in books is based on how I was raised, my life experiences and my education but thank goodness I am open to suggestions and willing to take a look at something different, obscure, vintage or even contemporary. It usually depends on the weather, like a twinge at the prospect of change.