Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Berry Picking Expedition

"Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk," were the sounds of berries hitting the bottoms of our tin pails. I immediately thought of one of my all time favorite books Blueberries for Sal, written and illustrated by the late Robert McCloskey, a true New England legend. He used those words of onomatopoeia to aptly capture the exact noise we heard today. The premise of the story is a little girl and her mom go picking blueberries at the same time as a sow black bear and her cub are also storing up for the long winter. Sal and the cub find each other's mamas and then their own.  It is no coincidence I call my son my "Little Bear."
 Blueberries for Sal (Viking Kestrel picture books) [Hardcover]

The Little Bear and I just got back from our first mini berry picking expedition of the season. Late summer, early fall - August is time for harvesting berries in Alaska. The variety is wide salmonberry, cloudberry, low bush and high bush blueberry, ligon berry, raspberry, strawberry, high bush and low bush cranberry, currants... the list goes on. The short little berry picker in our house has decided the fate of this first batch of berries... cupcakes! You typically find highbush bluberries is boggy areas around natural water drainages. That is where we found ours today.

I harbor an especially strong affinity for blueberries. Being 1/4 Finnish, blueberries hold a rather sacred place in that culture and my family.

What edible things grow wild in your neck of the woods? When do you harvest them? Do you discuss with your students or children how you relate literature to your own lives?

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