picking fruit

jamesinthestrawberrypatchJames picking (and eating) organic Mt. Hood strawberries in Oregon this month

I’ve mentioned before the merits of growing up with a backyard full of fruit trees and fruit bushes. The trees were primarily cherry. We had a small pie cherry tree and at least a couple Bing cherry trees and my mom’s favorite–Royal Ann. I’m not even sure if that’s correct, but that’s what my memory tells me so it’s true for me. I liked picking the tree fruit on account of no thorns or prickly anything. And also because when I was a kid I was not afraid of heights. In fact I was not afraid of much except for one of my younger brothers. I’m not sure if it was just us or if the primary thinking of the day was “the higher the tree the more fruit on the tree.” In any case, our cherry trees were big and tall and not just because as a kid I was not either of those things. They were truly huge. And I loved climbing in them fruit or no because fearless and free and up in the sky was pretty cool.

We also had raspberries (which, to this day, I’d rather have someone else pick for me). We may have dabbled in strawberries, but I remember my first paid child labor was picking fruit in a strawberry field and I may have made mere quarters but my tummy was full of sugar-sweet vine-ripened strawberries, so I looked past the non-existent child labor laws of the day and thought I came out pretty well.

But one of my favorite things about growing up in the land of the most abundant growing season on the planet (or so we were told) was the blackberry (which, in our case, I believe weren’t actually blackberries) bushes that grow wild everywhere in the Pacific Northwest. We had a couple of thick and mighty high bushes growing wild at the west edge of our pasture and I will tell you this, nothing makes better pie. Nothing.

There were a few serious thorns and some deep cuts and scratches in my childhood, but the sweet juice salve made of memories of summer fruit staining my fingers and running down my chin seems to have smoothed over some of those scars to the point I can say I had a good childhood.

[Day 127 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]