July, usually mid-July, marks the beginning of our berry season. Blueberries, then salmon berries, cranberries, cloudberries... We are so blessed to live somewhere with such natural bounty, and where we can just drive ten minutes out of town, hike into the woods, and pick! I haven't been able to go berrying for several years, having a brand-new baby last berry season and being busy with work and wedding preparation the previous year, so being able to get out this year has been so enjoyable; kneeling amid the boggy tussocks, smelling the trees and the plants and the sodden ground, reveling in the wide-open space with no other human in sight or earshot... If we ever move away, well, I'm sure I would be happy anywhere as long as I had my husband and my son... but the outdoors of Alaska is like a part of me, being out in those woods is as instinctive as breathing, and leaving it behind would be painful.
Little Bear and I met my mom and a few of the kids to pick blueberries this morning. We tromped through the tussocks for maybe a quarter of a mile to find a patch they had noticed when they were out Sunday afternoon. Blue everywhere! I love looking ahead through the trees and seeing a bush that is more blue than green... and we found plenty of those today! Little Bear had fun for a while sitting on a blanket, watching my little sisters and trying to dump their buckets, while I picked almost a half-gallon of blueberries and an overflowing pint of salmon berries. We have to go back; there were still so many out there, and I would love to have a freezer full! Fresh fruit is ridiculously expensive here even in the summers; it is important for us to preserve as much as we can to eat during the winter.
I didn't go out looking for salmon berries today, but they were ripe and beautiful and everywhere and I just couldn't resist. I think I have enough for two small jars of jam; I'll probably wind up picking more, though. The blueberries will just be frozen in quart bags after I finish cleaning them, to go in pancakes and muffins and smoothies and such.
Our picking time was cut short today because someone didn't take a nap this morning, and was all done being awake but couldn't bring himself to lay down and go to sleep. He got a good nap this afternoon, though, so maybe we will even go back out with Daddy once he gets off work? We shall see.