June 22, 2014 – The best thing about summer is the fresh bounty that can be found at the local fruit-stands.
I spent every summer of my youth on my grandparents farm and orchard and while the work was hard, the rewards were plenty and flavourful.
I remember riding around on Grandpa’s lap on the big old tractor, and when I was older, driving it though the orchard bringing crates of cherries back up to the storage shed.
I remember dragging tall ladders around for people coming from far and away for our U-pick.
I remember climbing to the very top of those 16 foot ladders and reaching for the juiciest, plumpest bundles of cherries, the ones that had received the best sunlight and contained the sweetest juices.
I remember going out to the raspberry bushes to pick berries for my morning cereal.
I remember the oppressive heat that would descend over the orchard at mid-day and how the dust would puff up around my feet when I finally couldn’t take it any longer.
I remember the water fights we’d all have to cool off, and the trek down to the lake to swim away the hottest part of the day.
I remember afternoons shelling peas in the shade on the lawn. I probably ate more than ever went into the freezer bags. And I remember taking the pea pods to the neighbours, far across the alfalfa fields, to feed to their goats.
I remember hot steamy days in the kitchen with Grandma canning fruits and vegetables and stirring huge pots of strawberry and raspberry jams.
I remember milking the cows and collecting eggs with Grandad.
I remember time in Granny’s farm kitchen, baking and freezing freshly baked cookies filled with fresh-from-the-orchard jam.
I remember picking huckleberries in the bush, always looking over my shoulder, keeping watch for the black bears that would want to share in the bounty.
The berries of summer evoke so many memories for me. These fruits hold the sights and smells and flavours of my childhood.
It hurts to pay the prices that I find today when it was so accessible and basically free when I was younger, but I’m also happy when I’m supporting local BC farmers, so I bite in and savour the fleeting fruits of summer with pleasure.
Ahhh summer… you are so fleeting but you bring such treasures when you arrive.