Berry season in the Keweenaw is like no other berry season I have ever known. It's not a tractor ride through the strawberry farm fields with the masses. It's not filling buckets of lush raspberries from a tall domestic patch in a friend's yard.
It's all about timing, weather, solitude and knowing the best spots for "what-kind-of-berry-did-you-say?" wild berries.
Brady P. learned to pick thimbleberries this summer.
What kind of berry?
(Stock photo from the internet)
They were pretty prolific this year. The bilberries, my usual favorite to pick, took the year off, so thimbles it was.
No matter. Braeden loved them.
One day, just as the season was ripening, Aaron, Braeden and I took a buggy ride through the campground to check their progress. When we saw the pink jewels glistening in the evening sun, Aaron stopped the ATV, and we hopped off to pick a few. That's when little man got his first taste for the season.
We would each pick a handful and take turns bringing them to Brady P. Braeden would grab the whole pile of berries out of our hands like an eagle clawing an unsuspecting fish. Then he shoved his dripping fistful into his mouth and chewed them up.
The berry grabbing face and talon
He enjoyed them, all right.
When we climbed back in to drive further, Braeden got mad. He signed "More! More!" with his little thumb poking into his palm and squealed at us.
"We're driving to find some more berries!" we tried to reason with a ravenous toddler. We simply couldn't pick enough that day to satiate the little guy.
But he learned how to pick them on his own.
I've been a berry picker up here for 11 years; as long as I've lived here, I've been part of the craze. I know the thrill of the whole process: the waiting, the finding, the picking, the sound they make in the bucket, the eating, the storing, etc.
To see my own flesh and blood recognize a thimbleberry bush, walk up to it, gently pick the ripe berry and eat it with delight made me so proud. So proud. Even prouder than the fact that he knows his shapes.
Brady P. the forager
Even though thimbleberry season is waning, I have a feeling that he'll remember them for next year. On our daily walks, he'll stop in front of a thimbleberry bush, point, and shout, "Ah!" as if to tell me, "There are berries in that bush, Mama!"
Next year I will have some competition in the bushes, as most of the berries might end up in his mouth before they have a chance to plop in my bucket. Good thing I have some height on him. He can only reach the low ones.