It was picture perfect this morning, and I was anxious to get out and enjoy a long walk, before reluctantly heading back to deal with the basement doldrums. On this third weekend of the decluttering and cleaning odyssey, I am still making progress, and predict I will be done with everything downstairs by month end. Yeah! Maybe in August, I can then reclaim my weekends for some much-needed “me time”.
I packed extra peanuts to feed my furry and feathered friends. You might recall, that I’ve told you about one Red-Winged Blackbird who dive-bombs for peanuts just as soon as I place them on the perimeter path for the squirrels. Nervy … yes, a little. But, I’ll save the story about that peanut-grabbing bird for another post.
I hustled down to Council Point Park while enjoying the slightly cooler and less-humid morning. Can we please keep this weather for longer than one day? Those high dew points this week, compounded by the rain, made my steps dwindle significantly.
The perimeter path was crowded, and each person who waved “hello” also had a comment about the beautiful morning. I chatted with a few of the regular walkers and tendered peanuts as I moved along the pathway.
On the second loop, I spotted those same two women picking black raspberries from a bush. They gestured to come over, then pointed to the bush to show how plentiful the berries were. They had no buckets or bags, and, just as before, they were picking those ripe berries and popping them right into their mouths.
No one joined them, so I imagine they had the entire bush full of berries to themselves. The second time around, on that same loop, those ladies were still harvesting black raspberries and I could see their berry-stained mouths and palms.
Once again, I wondered what keeps the Park critters from enjoying those berries? This berry bush, as you see in the picture above, is tucked between other foliage and off the beaten path, so perhaps the critters’ eyes do not hone in on these edible treats.
After I passed the berry-pickin’ women, I thought of three generations of women in my own family.
My great grandparents owned a farm in Ariss, Ontario, a rural area near Guelph. My grandmother used to tell tales about “farm life” back when she was growing up. Her father would chastise her and her sister for naming the chickens and treating them like pets. Sometimes, in a rather heartless move, he would ask Minnie, Margaret and Loretta to help him choose which chickens would be on the Sunday dinner table, as he stood there, axe in hand. The young girls would run back into the house in tears whenever this happened.
My grandmother would also tell stories of how her mom would line up black currant coffeecakes along the ledge in the back kitchen to cool, and the flies would be buzzing around, and you couldn’t tell if there were flies or black currants on that cake. (As a germaphobe, I’d have a real problem with that!)
Also, my grandmother used to relay tales of how her mom would send her and her eight siblings out every Summer morning to pick berries. Each child would lug a metal bucket, and, when it was prime berry-pickin’ time, and the bushes were laden with berries, the children took a hearty lunch with them, so they could pick every last berry and not waste precious time traipsing through the fields back to the house for lunch.
But, no matter what type of berries were hanging heavy on those bushes, the Klein kids knew better than to enjoy those ripe, plump berries while picking them. Instead, they filled their respective metal buckets and obediently presented them to their mom, who would bake pies and cobblers, plus “put up” jams and jellies for all Winter.
As each of my grandmother’s siblings left the nest and bought their own farm, or moved to the Big City, a/k/a Toronto, they all returned with their families to the homestead every August to help bring in the crops, and, eventually it fell on their children to assume the monumental task of collecting the berries.
This faded photograph is my mom with her grandparents Andrew and Catherine Klein at their farm in the early 50s.
For years, Mom would hanker after red currant pie, because those berries were in season and plentiful when her family visited the farm every August for two weeks. So, we scoured the produce markets Downriver, and finally found one that carried a few dozen pints throughout the growing season. Well, that discovery made Mom berry happy, so we’d beat a regular path to Andy’s Farm Market in Southgate to load up on red currants, so she could bake and enjoy her favorite pie.