Weekends like this start innocently enough. An e-mail sent from a local organic farmer and friend, private invitation only, "the strawberries are ready for picking." It came in my inbox while we were on vacation so the picking had to wait till we got home. And it had to wait till Damien could help (I intended to pick a lot) and I had time to freeze what we picked.
It was decided, Friday was the day.
Then late last week another invitation, this time from Damien's coworker and friend, "our backyard raspberries are ripe and we'll be out of town for the weekend, please help yourself." Only these berries were both free and a mere 5 minute walk down the street.
Free berries cannot be passed up.
And so the weekend played out something like this:
6:30 am Get up and get the girls out of bed. We're going strawberry picking. I baked muffins the night before to eat while working.
7:30 am The four of us are in the patch. Unfortunately the humidity that hit during our vacation "killed" a good number of berries. There's a lot of rotten and moldy ones, as there was in my home patch when we returned from our trip. But we're determined and thorough. By midmorning we've picked 27 lbs, 1/2 of what I had hoped to pick - these organic berries are small but good.
1:30 pm One bucket cleaned and in the freezer. Four to go. We've also made a run to the craft store for magnetic sheets, Celine has a craft in mind.
4:30 pm After the usual afternoon activities of reading and my writing time I'm washing and freezing another bucket. Brienne is sorely disappointed I don't have time to sew her the sundress we bought fabric for the night before, but there is only so much a mama can do in a day!
5:00 pm I pick our backyard raspberries. So thankful that it's family night at the college, cheap eats (& even healthy options) for supper.
7:00 pm We're home again and before we settle down to watch Alice in Wonderland with the girls I move frozen strawberries from cookie sheets to gallon sized plastic freezer bags.
9:30 am We slept in. Delicious. Almost as delicious as the fresh berry smoothie Damien makes us for breakfast.
The specific details of this day are hard to recall but I spend most of it in the kitchen: washing, freezing and bagging the rest of the strawberries (15 lbs worth), preparing the day's meals and making skin care products. It was a good day. Damien works on the house, the girls play and participate in our work.
5:30 pm The girls and I walk down the street to Damien's friend and coworker's house. He wasn't joking, there are a lot of ripe raspberries. I'm in berry heaven. We pick 4 lbs in 1/2 an hour, not bad.
7:30 pm We eat berries for dessert, again (smile). The evening is spent getting ready for tomorrow's hike.
9:30 pm The last raspberries are spread on a cookie sheet and placed in the freezer. The juice stained picking buckets and sticky kitchen counters are cleaned, one last time. Kitchen closed.
7:00 am Frozen raspberries come off the cookie sheet and into a plastic freezer bag. We eat Damien's breakfast muesli with fresh raspberries.
8:30 am We're on the road, driving to the mountains for our weekly hike.
When we arrived I think I saw wild raspberries in the parking lot at the trailhead. Just this once I resisted the urge to investigate.
7:00 pm After a supper of frozen Newman's Own pizzas from the grocery store (we hadn't anticipated the Thai restaurant we eat at after hikes to be closed on July 4th - silly us) I'm off again to the neighbors to pick raspberries. I'm by myself this time. I appreciate the quiet. In that prickly patch I ponder my "berry picking heritage". Grandparents, both sets, who could outpick anyone. I think of my mom who also planned to pick berries this weekend at her home in Nova Scotia. I recall being a teenager on vacation with my parents and grumbling about stopping to pick berries for an hour on our way to the cabin. That I ever complained about berry picking amazes me but gives me hope for my own children that some day they too will come around to the joy of picking.
8:30 pm One more cookie sheet of raspberries (complete with microscopic bugs, you can't really wash raspberries) in the freezer and we're out the door to watch the city fireworks show down by the river.
10:30 pm Home from the fireworks. Damien blends himself a water and raspberry juice in the vitamix. A refreshing drink on this warm summer night.
8:30 am I'm making waffles topped with raspberries for breakfast, a holiday request from the girls. More frozen raspberries are being transferred from the cookie sheet to a plastic freezer bag.
9:30 am In the garden taking photos of our raspberries. No time to pick though I've got some writing to do.
2:00 pm After a salad of farm greens and peas for lunch the girls and I are off to the local pond for an afternoon of swimming on this holiday Monday. The beach is busy but not crowded, the day is hot, the water is clean and refreshing. It's perfect.
6:30 pm We've eaten supper and I'm in our backyard picking raspberries while Damien makes berry smoothies for dessert. I pick almost 2 lbs and we're set again for breakfast and a few more to freeze. While I'm picking our neighbor, Damien's coworker whose yard I've visited twice this weekend, stops by on a walk with his family. "Hey listen" he says "now that we're home there's still more berries in our backyard then we're able to pick. You're welcome to them."
9:00 pm I make Tuesday's plan. First off, raspberry muffins for breakfast and then I figure out where to squeeze another 1/2 hour of berry picking into an already full day of sewing, a bit of school, picking up a couchsurfer to stay for a couple days and the usual meals and laundry. But berries for the picking, how can I say no?
It was a wonderful long summer weekend. We hiked and swam, ate from our farm share (and the grocer's freezer), watched a movie and fireworks. We spent time with the girls in the outdoors and at home. And through it all we relished berries. We picked berries, I froze berries, we ate berries. We lived berries.
Does summer get any better?