Catherine Jackson: EarnestGirl Chronicles


Berry Picking

Family Continuity Through Stained Fingertips

This summer we couldn’t make our annual trip to the berry patch.  Our winter freezer will be empty of smoothie-ready berries, my February pies will be bereft of the raspberries that give them zing in the soft-apple and hard-pear winter months. But it is not the berries that I will miss most; it is the berry picking itself that will leave a hole in our summer.

The drive from city to fields, the sweet red-stained fingertips, the same yearly collection of baskets and bins and wide-mouth containers filled to the brim and balanced in the trunk, the happy satisfaction of picking one’s own food, all these form a gateway for us to summertime.

The berry patch is one of the first places I let the girls test freedom – no cars, no obstacles, no “be carefuls” – I watched their little sun-hated heads disappear in the rows and remembered my own time up fruit trees and afternoons spent happily lost to the search for the perfect berry. Which required plenty of tasting.

There are traditions and they are important – celebrations, high holidays, family gatherings – but the smaller rituals that anchor us to the seasons are in their own humbler ways the events against which we measure our lives.

We visit Westham Island for berries at Emma Lea Farms in the summertime and pumpkins at Westham Island Herb Farm in the fall. What do you do with your family to celebrate and connect to the turning of the seasons?