Or more specifically, overcoming the fear of berry picking.
No, no. The berries themselves are not frightening, but the large mammals that eat them are.
I finally convinced J to put together his new shotgun and take the girls and I blueberry picking. We headed out with another friend of ours and her children, and armed with the shotgun and a couple large bowls, set off for Alaska's bounty.
We were definitely IN bear country but found a nice open meadow with enough berries for everyone, and came home with enough blueberries to put up twelve jars of jam and a few cups of berries in the freezer. The kids all came home with blue poop (you wanted to know that, right?), which is a good sign that we ate as many as we harvested. I spent yesterday evening washing berries and making jam, and planning our next trip to a few more berry patches we scoped out along the way. Now that I know what the plants look like, I am realizing we have been passing up a good number of potential harvest sights!
And (thankfully), saw not one single bear or other berry eating mammals.
The girls and I set out again today with a friend to pick more strawberries. This afternoon's agenda involves strawberry-apricot jam, since I have a large number of apricots from our farm boxes this week. Berry picking was short, but plentiful today, and only involved one mishap, when Beans wandered off into the woods. I spent a couple minutes in a panic, but thanks to her bright pink jacket (which I only put on her as an afterthought today! GULP!), she was quickly found with the help of my friend.
Lesson learned: Always wear bright colors, and look up from the berries a little more frequently. Missing a kid in the woods is the quickest way to feel your throat drop to the pit of your stomach. This post will never do justice the the feelings that hit you when you find your little one and hold her close, and suddenly experience a mix of relief and anger at the same time.
And little Beans? Not frightened by her adventure. Nope. She threw a tantrum when I demanded that she come out of the woods at once and stay close to mommy.
But thank goodness she is safe!
The rest of our week was fun. Pops and Other J enjoyed the fishing trip, and the guys came back with a good forty or fifty pounds of fish and shrimp (prawns, really!) for the freezer. The guys returned smelling of campfire and fish. J and I stayed up until 1 am cleaning and packaging fish. Halibut, China Rock Fish, Black Bass, and Quill Back, along with fifty very large prawns are now residing in my freezer. Looks like we'll need another freezer before hunting season starts, but that should get us through a good bit of the winter. J is checking the fishing reports this week, and may be heading out for salmon in the next week or two.
After packing everything for the freezer, I finally got a moment to check out the pictures, and I have to admit, I have a serious case of envy! The guys claim to have spotted two whales, and have pictures of seals (seals!) and icebergs! They were telling stories of hauling smaller icebergs to shore, and using that for their ice supply. The camp site was amazing, and even had me wishing I were brave enough for tent camping.
While we won't be going as hardcore as the fellas were, I have insisted that J bring me to Valdez before the end of summer for a night or two of (RV) camping.
Monday was a day of recuperation for the guys, and we spent the day driving Pops and Other J around Delta, showing them the general area. Pops, being from a farm in North Dakota, was especially impressed with the agricultural area of Delta, and hugely impressed with Clearwater River and the lake it empties into. We wrapped up our day with a trip to the park for Beans, and ordering pizza from Birch Brothers, our new little pizza shop in town.
Tuesday, Pops and J decided that it would be best to spend the night in Fairbanks, since their flight left early in the morning on Wednesday. We loaded up the girls and both cars, and made it a day of shopping. We wrapped up with another trip to the Salmon Bake, and headed to the hotel.
We were ready to make goodbyes, when Pops locked the keys to the rental car in the trunk. Oops. J and I headed to the airport for the extra set of keys, and while it took a little time, we eventually said our tearful goodbyes and headed home.
I love living in Alaska, but saying goodbye to family always makes me wish we were a bit closer. I'm already looking forward to the next trip, and missing Pops and Other J terribly.
So now, with everyone gone, the weekend plan is to get the house back in order, get the girls back on their routines, and then finish up my obligations for the Fair. I have my assignments for the MOPS float, and there is lots of cutting and pasting to do around here. Also, more jam making, scarf knitting, and various other projects that have deadlines looming in the near future. Should prove to be a busy weekend, and next week should be full of more berry picking, jam making, and float construction.
On that note, I have kids and jam to tend to, so...
Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!