Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thimbleberries In Vermont


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A dark morning here on the mountain above Peacham Pond. When I woke at 4:15 it was as if someone left a light on as the moon was bright and it was easy to see the fields. I walked from window to window looking out for signs of deer, bear, coyotes or moose passing through but their company eluded me. Karl the Wonder dog sleeps on quietly in dog dream heaven, occasionally letting out dog dream whimpers but never awakening. The morning is cold at 18.3 degrees and I suspect it will drop lower as the sun begins to rise in another hour.

Fall chores have kept me away from writing for over a week. The wood for next year is cut and split and Alex is stacking the last cord a little at a time. He actually enjoys the work and confirms it as he hums songs and places each split log bark side up in perfect placement. He hums his favorite Civil War tunes and never seems to make adjustment for festive seasonal music. Every day I learn something new about autism and every day I wish it would evaporate...but it won't.

Work on the machine shed is coming along nicely and I hope the roof can go on tomorrow and Tuesday. There is promise of two days of warm weather between now and bad weather on Thanksgiving so I am pushing things along. Today the temperature will never rise above 30 degrees so hammering nails will be replaced by more chain saw work on the hiking trails I have been creating this fall. We have 70 acres bordering a state forest and my goal is to continue to reopen old logging roads and make walking trails throughout. 50 yards here, 50 feet there, I advance through the woods paced by other chores and the amount of fallen trees I come upon. Come for a walk sometime and I'll show you how this is coming.

Every day I spend a little time checking out what other gardeners are doing around the world. I love the west coast and the gardening opportunities there and always learn something new. Today I was reading Rainy Side Gardeners and I solved a berry mystery that has bothered me since I was a kid.

I have always been a berry eater since early days in Vermont when putting food by to make it through harsh winters was entrenched in my behavior. I learned about raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and walking into the fields and forests with an old peanut butter pail hitched through my belt and dangling as I walked was a common occurrence. But there was always a berry, a flat purpley-red berry that I noticed the deer liked, that I never knew the name for. Fidelia and Lillian, our next door farm lady neighbors at the time once pointed out that they were ok to eat "but don't mix them in your bucket with raspberries, they make mush". No one knew the name and each year I would pick maybe two or three and eat them to confirm they were fine to eat and still didn't taste that well.

But this morning, while waiting for the sun to rise, I found the name to this mysterious berry on the west coast gardening site. The berries are thimbleberries, Rubus parviflorus, and they have been well known for centuries as their use by Native American cultures supports. If you get a chance, look at Rainy Side Gardeners and let me know if you have seen them in your area before.

No berry picking for now. Karl the Wonder Dog is stirring and I better get my boots on. Our morning walk is about the begin.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where deer hunters are driving by slowly, hoping not to have to leave the warmth of their trucks but knowing that there is only a week left in the season to bag a buck.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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1 comment:

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Ah, fall chores. They can be tiresome, some of them. The wood is in, south side of roof reshingled, the horse bedding (sawdust) is half-bagged and stored, the bulbs planted, but we need to bank the west side of the house and build a new front step. Happily, longsuffering spouse is very handy.
I didn't realize you were on Twitter, George. I've corrected that oversight.