We did a little bit of playing house, Soule-style, which means that we went to a pick-your-own berry farm, used the berries to make jam and cobbler, and had ourselves a feast. Here's what it looked like:
All these parts of the process were lovely. Picking the berries is satisfying (I'm not entirely sure why); I love baking with the girls; and summer fruit is truly fantastic--all the more so because it's almost fall and we'll be on the apple-only diet pretty soon. Those strawberries, puny and misshapen as they were, were sweet as candy. They make store-bought strawberries seem like badly-flavored medicine. Colorado peaches are heavenly this year, and I love eating jam we made on bread I made on my great-grandmother's china, which we use every day.
But I don't want to make like it's all perfect-perfect. We went to Berry Patch Farms, which is a lovely place, with roosters running around and a gorgeous-smelling barn market. Unfortunately, we went on one of the summer's last 90-plus-degree days, and on a very busy Saturday, so the raspberry pickings were super slim. After a few hours all we had are the three cartons you see above. By the time we got to strawberry picking, I nearly passed out (no kidding) from the heat and the standing-up-bending-down of it all. And I think I come from "hearty stock," as my grandmother likes to say--I'm no wilting flower.
E. and I were both thinking about what it would be like if that was your job for ten to twelve hours a day, and the strategies and toughness one would have to develop to manage it. And it wasn't even as hot as it can get here. We both felt pretty queasy on the ride home, and got even more cranky when we were ensnarled in a Labor Day traffic jam on I-70.
I also don't have any illusions about this being more environmentally friendly than other ways to get food. Rather than driving 25 minutes to get to this pick-your-own farm, we're hoping that next year our strawberry plants go nuts and we can have our own fruit here. But we're struggling to effectively grow things in our back yard because of the weird patterns of sunlight it gets (we have a tall house and lots of trees) and most of all because of foraging critters. We have a new peach tree that had three gorgeous peaches a day away from picking, and overnight they had all been absconded with.
I think we'll start all over next year and build some real garden infrastructure.
But in the meanwhile, I'm going to eat some more of this yummy cobbler.