When Wayne & Eugene had cleaned up the weeds in my back alley last week, I had mentioned to Wayne that I was hoping to go pick Saskatoons this (past) Saturday. Wayne asked if he could come along. (He said he got lost easily if people just gave him directions). I said, “Sure.”
I was talking with my neighbour/friend, Rita on her birthday and when I mentioned going to pick Saskatoons she got all excited, so I offered her a chance to come along too. I hadn’t got a gift ready for her yet, but Rita insisted that this kind of opportunity would be a perfect gift for her.
They both arrived here at 10 am on Saturday morning, so off we went. It’s about a 20 minute drive north and east towards the river, near Blumenheim village, at the Vince & Mary Fehr’s U-Pick farm.
I’d brought more than enough ice cream pails for myself and to share, as I was looking forward to stocking up for the winter. (I had not been able to go last summer because of my fractured back). I also had a light-weight purse over my shoulder stocked with my camera and insect repellent – just in case. As it happened, there was enough of a steady breeze, even wind, to make the insects stay hidden.
But… I was so absorbed in my picking that I forgot to take out the camera and take any photos. Sorry about that!
I had put on a leather belt of Tom’s, and hung my pail from the belt the way Dad always did. This meant I could pick with both hands. I was also reaching up for the taller branches as I could see that others had ignored the biggest, ripes berries up there. Mom had taught me not to waste fruit by ignoring or leaving some behind, so I searched the branches thoroughly for Saskatoons. This meant that my friends wandered far down between the two tall hedges assigned to us, while I did a thorough picking of a shorter section.
However, as my pail filled, it got heavier and heavier, which meant that I was tilting myself backwards to maintain balance. At the same time I was wrestling the taller branches down and holding them with one hand while I milked the biggest purple berries into my pail. This put my back into some strain, as I tried to balance between leaning back and reaching forward and to the right or left higher up.
We had started picking at 10:45 and by 12:15 my back was whining like a pathetic, and unhappy toddler. I finally had to admit that I would have to be the one to say I was ready to go home. But first I had to walk, down the aisle and look for Rita and Wayne. I’d emptied my first pail-full into a bucket without a handle, and started on my second. It was about 1/3 full, but I kept reaching for the ripe Saskatoons at my waist and eye level so that by the time I’d found them, and Wayne was ready to return…although Rita lingered until she had her second pail full,… I had a half pail full.
As I told Mary as I paid her, I would gladly have picked more, if only my back could stand me being on my feet much longer.
I’d told them about the tree branch falling the day before, so when we got back to my house, Wayne wanted to see it and decide if he could do anything to help me. (God bless him!)
Neither Wayne or I had a saw, but as many of the smaller branches were dry and brittle he said he would brake off as many as he could by hand, thus make the rest of the job easier for Gary when he came. So I made a quick, late lunch and invited Wayne to share it. Then he went out and I curled up for a nap. I knew I was wasted for more physical work until I got rested up.
When I woke at 4 pm, I went to check on Wayne and he had disappeared through the side gate, but he had broken all the smaller branches off the main, big one, and he had carried them to the back and piled them on a heap beside the tent garage and beyond the garden edge.
I spent time that evening cleaning and washing and putting my Saskatoons into yogurt containers. I had 7 one-litre containers full, plus a half – which I set aside in the fridge for dessert on Sunday. (If I allow myself one container full every 2 weeks, they should last me about four months).
Gary called late Saturday night to say that he would come in the morning, Sunday. He had brought a chain saw with him when he arrived about 11:30 am. I called him in when I had lunch ready.
Again, I had a nap while he went out to finish the work. When I woke up I went to see how he was doing, he was gone, and so was the big branch. In fact, Gary had loaded all the branch pieces, large and small onto his truck and taken them away!
This morning I remembered that I had not taken photos of the Saskatoons. So I brought 3 tubs out of the freezer and set them on the table in the sunshine. I thought the sun might melt off the frost at the top; instead, it turned into thicker hoarfrost. So here’s a photo, but you will have to imagine the luscious colour and juiciness of these delicious Saskatoon Berries.
Did you know that they are found in other provinces across Canada? They just go by other names, like, Service berries, Juneberries and Amelanchier (French) and Shadbush. Also the Saskatoon bush is from the rose family, as are apples, plums and cherries. Who would have thunk that up?