It’s time to hit the blue­berry patch

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Gary Shaw

As folks from Labrador, many of us find our­selves be­ing closely tuned into what each of our sea­sons brings to us. Many of us are out­door peo­ple who use the sea­sons and Mother Na­ture’s sig­nals to di­rect us to the next ac­tiv­ity that is im­por­tant to us.

For those folks among us who are blue­berry peo­ple, we are fi­nally out and on the go in our favourite places to go “pick­ing”. Pick­ing blue­ber­ries finds many of us in the same places that we have been us­ing for years.

It’s part of our cul­ture. Whether we have an early sea­son or a late sea­son, whether we have lots of big fat blue­ber­ries to pick or fewer and smaller blue­ber­ries, it doesn’t seem to mat­ter, we are still out there to en­joy the har­vest.

This an­nual har­vest is im­por­tant to us for a num­ber of rea­sons. It’s an an­nual event that we look for­ward to, the trip to the patch that has been like a mag­net to us for a long time, con­tin­ues its draw. The out­doors, the days that we get of good tem­per­a­tures, and spend­ing time out­doors with the bounty of our ef­forts in hav­ing a bucket full of these lit­tle trea­sures, are the con­stant re­minder of what this an­nual tra­di­tion brings to us.

What we do with our blue­ber­ries is only lim­ited by our imag­i­na­tions. We make pies, jam, jel­lies, muffins and pan­cakes. Our blue­ber­ries find their way on to our cheese­cakes and are even made into wine. Per­haps the best way to eat them might be sit­ting on the hill in a com­fort­able place with a good view and eat­ing a few hand­fuls as we pick them.

In the big­ger picture, these lit­tle berries are de­scribed as the “su­per fruit”. The health ben­e­fits from eat­ing these berries have a long list of ben­e­fits. Stud­ies have shown that con­sum­ing these berries aids in di­ges­tion, slows the break­down of bones, and low­ers the risk of heart disease. They are also full of an­tiox­i­dants and help in re­duc­ing belly fat. Berries are full of valu­able vi­ta­mins, said to help in im­prov­ing vi­sion, aids in the preven­tion of cancer and en­hances a pos­i­tive mood. All of this with the best part of all, they taste re­ally good.

For us folks lo­cally, we all know how late in the year that we got to see this years spring ar­rive. This of course with all of our plant de­vel­op­ment and growth, af­fected our blue­ber­ries as well. We had a late start, which also gave us a later fin­ish to the ma­tu­rity of our berries this year. That be­ing said though, we have had good tem­per­a­tures and timely rains to give us a pretty good crop of berries. The down side to this type of sea­son shows in the size of the berries, they are smaller than nor­mal, how­ever, they seem to be fin­ish­ing strong with a spurt of late sea­son growth.

I went up to Smokey Moun­tain the other day for a look and a taste of this year’s crop. The good news was that there was a fine bunch of berries on the bushes. The bad news was that there was an even big­ger crop of black­flies. There’s al­ways some­thing!

I met up with Don Wood­ford set­tled in and pick­ing away at the berries. Don is and old veteran of many sea­sons of berry pick­ing on Smokey and he was hav­ing a suc­cess­ful day. He was clearly in his el­e­ment and was not only en­joy­ing his day, but was well pre­pared for any even­tu­al­ity.

He had his buck­ets, his fly re­pel­lent, his bear spray and his smile on his face as he en­joyed his day on the hill.

This time of year and the an­nual blue­berry har­vest is in­deed a part of what Don and many among us like him rep­re­sent. It is a part of our lives that rep­re­sent the very fab­ric of who we are as Labrado­ri­ans.

GARY SHAW — SPE­CIAL TO THE AURORA

It’s time to har­vest the blue­ber­ries.

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