"Honey, what the...? How much fruit is this?"
"Uh, about 60 pounds," I replied, sheepishly happy.
In no real way have I "taken it easy" this week. That was my personal dictate, and I have failed. That said, I've had a ball.
Said ball culminated with a spontaneous pilgrimage to Larriland Farm yesterday. It's a fantastic, sprawling, organic/IPM (integrated pest management) farm in Woodbine, MD, which is about an hour from NW DC.
Each day, Larriland posts what you can pick that day, and yesterday's options just got me too excited to stay home: Shiro plums, peaches, blackberries...
Unlike my maiden voyage last year (which resulted in A Case for Thorns, a post that was so popular I felt like a real blogger!) for which I planned not at all and thus ended up out at Larriland with dirty teeth, a desperate need for the bathroom and gas, and no food, I this year took the time to ready myself: water, snacks, full gas tank, walked and fed pets.
First to the peach fields for a quick-and-easy 22 pounds. The birds chirped, the bugs buzzed, and I had visions of peach jam, peach pie and brandied peaches floating through my head. Cute kids wove through and around the grove, blissed out as I was. Except for that crying baby. Grr, crying baby. I jest. A bit.
"Girl, you are rocking this trip!" I told myself as I paid for the peaches and headed to the plum orchard.
Once amidst the plum trees, I felt a sting of disappointment: where are they? But then I remembered that not looking up and under is a rookie mistake, and so I did. Shiros everywhere!
That yellow-flesh varietal is one of my favorite for jam-making. So, as you probably suspect, I picked and picked and picked and then threw in some little purple ones too: Methleys (not my favorite) or Rosas? Not sure but lovely.
Back to the cashier. New box. On to blackberries and to beat my sixteen-pound pick of last year. Why beat 16 pounds? Well, because Jack's very favorite jam is blackberry and what I made from the non-eaten berries from 2014 didn't last us past this January. This year? 21 pounds.
I fully intended to go home after blackberries, but the cashier said that raspberry picking was actually pretty good and since I was all the way out in Woodbine, I decided to forge ahead because y'all, I am not lying, little is more magnificent than homemade raspberry jam.
Quick handful of almonds, bunch of water, burst of AC and to the raspberry patch. At this point, many hours in, I was really starting to tire. It was hot, not a cloud in the sky. Gorgeous day but now 1:45, I thought, "Girl, almonds aren't lunch but raspberry jam." Easy calculus and so I fetched another box.
Raspberry plants are thorny, dense and underwhelming from an aesthetic perspective. But the "up and under" mantra will repay you in spades, so I jumped right in. Bees and other beneficial bugs were everywhere but I just said, "Thanks, bugs" and we respected each other's personal space.
That's the great thing about being in nature when no one has tried to kill anything. You see what a beautiful balance is struck when Earth is left to her own devices. You realize that we needn't fear buzzing, flying, leggy things. Spending time outside is one of the greatest educations, in my opinion; one of the greatest ways to inspire a deep wonder and appreciation for our world. Get out there, get dirty, pay close attention, sweat, give thanks.
Lucky me, both red and black raspberries were there for the taking, and take I did. Just about four pounds but enough for 6 pints of jam or so. (I know because I made some at 9pm last night out of wild-eyed fear that my beautiful, delicate bounty would go bad).
Once home, I quickly moved everything inside, ran to pick the boys up from camp, told them they could be as lazy as they wanted to until bedtime, let them eat as many blackberries as they wanted and got to work making jam and a pie and dinner for everyone.
After dinner and the raspberry jam, I said, "T, put a fork in me. I'm done!" and went to bed.