Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heat Wave? We Don't Care 'Bout No Stinkin' Heat Wave!

Alternatively titled: "I Don't Want To Know Where Food Comes From. All The Magic Is Gone."

So, if it were a Tuesday in Where Does Our Food Come From Week and it were your middle kid's first day of summer school and the people on the radio kept talking about heat advisories and how the air quality is "orange" and that there are cooling centers being set up all over the area, what would you do with your afternoon?

I know. You would totally go berry picking in the hot sun, wouldn't you?

I know that some of you would have heeded the warnings of...everybody...and stayed inside, but I had "berry picking" written on my schedule, so berry picking we were a-going. Never mind that Jack burst into tears when I told him we were getting in the car and that upon pulling up at the farm, Sam busted out with that alternative title above. We were berry picking.

Originally, we were going to go blueberry picking, because that's what everyone's been talking about picking lately, so I just assumed that's what we had to pick. But then, the farm we were going to go to closed at 1 today (wusses) so I found another farm to visit and this one didn't have blueberries. It had blackberries. And peaches.

I have to tell you, I was kind of relieved, because I don't really like blueberries and I was sort of wondering what I was going to do with six million of them. I do, however, like blackberries.

So our intrepid crew set off toward the blackberry fields.

One out of four with a smile isn't bad, right?
Okay. It's bad.

One of the things I was hoping to teach my kids by dragging them out into the hot sun to pick fruit is to show them that our berries don't just magically appear in little plastic boxes in the grocery store. I wanted them to realize that people have to stand out there amid the thorns and in the hot sun to pick those things. And, as my mom pointed out, that's why blackberries are so goddamn expensive. Really, I'm just trying to give my kids the full farm laborer experience here.

Sam picked, like, two blackberries and then sat down with his book, a bottle of water, and a box of goldfish crackers. He experienced the about-to-get-fired farm laborer experience.

It's really my fault for taking him to the library
to supply him with fresh, unread books.

Jack happily picked blackberries for a while, which is strange, because he rarely deigns to touch fruit. Before too long, he gave up as well and went to join Sam by the water bottles. But not before he purposely dumped all the blackberries he'd painstakingly picked onto the ground.

I'm not sure why his berries were all bleeding juice.
No one else's berries did that.

Quinn was a trooper. He actually tasted a berry.

At first he thought they had pits and he tried to eat around it.
My poor kids, all undereducated about fruit and all.

He hung in until the last though, continuing to look for ripe berries even after some bizarre, sudden foot affliction left him screaming on the ground for a few minutes.

I think maybe he thought a thorn jumped at him or something.

We collected two big buckets of giant, delicious blackberries and then started the trudge back to the farm house from where we planned on going to get peaches. After the fifteenth time Quinn said, "Wait uuuuuupppp! Wait for me! Mooooooommmmm!" I decided that we would buy the munchkins ice cream and my mom would sit with them while I went a-hunting for peaches.

It's a good thing I did, because the peach trees were located sixteen miles away along a dusty road traveled only by foot. This is where my farm laborer analogy falls apart, because I'm pretty sure those farm laborers get to ride a truck to the fields.

Of course, they also have to pick for longer than ten minutes, but I still think we're even. Did I mention that I had to WALK TO THE PEACH TREES?

At first I didn't think it would be that bad, but shortly after starting my walk I passed two groups of people returning from the peach trees. Both of them had only one thing to say: "It sure is hot down there."

Hotter than here?

I passed two different signs pointing me in the direction of the peach trees before I reached this next one. It was shortly after I passed this sign that the woman walking in front of me gave up, turned around, and decided to buy already picked peaches.

This sign implies that the peaches are at the end of the row of small trees.
Not true. That is where the next sign is located.

The signs were like these chipper little cheerleaders
that I kinda wanted to punch.

I crested a little hill after that last sign to see two more signs in the distance. I didn't know it then, but I was close to the peach trees.

Well. Relatively close.

I don't even know if the peaches I picked were ripe. I was just so happy to see a round, fuzzy fruit that I started throwing them in my box.


I started my long slog back up the hill to the farm, taking a slightly different path and passing what looked suspiciously like peach trees about midway between the farmhouse and my peach trees.

I was already about halfway back when I took this photo.
Did I mention it was 103 degrees?

I finally arrived back at the farmhouse where I found my family. My mom took one look at me and told me that it would be a great idea for me to pour some of the water from the water bottles on the back of my neck, except, oops! She already did that to the children, so there was no water left. Sorry.

Certain members of our party didn't seem to have noticed that I was gone.


Wait. Let's take another look at that photo.

There was a boy who lived on the farm many years ago who fell in the lake.
Some people say he still shows up on hot days to ask visitors to go swimming with him. Oooooooooooooo....

Then we looked at the goats and the chickens, yadda, yadda, yadda, and drove home. I think the best part of the day might have been when my mom made blackberry crisp with fresh blackberries.

Because my kids won't eat fruit, more for the grown ups!!

And, holy hell, I gotta tell you, that was the best fruit crisp of any ilk that I have ever eaten. OMG. Like, seriously. OMFG.

Even the mice liked the blackberries.

I didn't put enough into Mouse Town though so they kinda had to battle for it. Oops.

So there you have Day Two (or really Day One, considering we didn't do anything Camp Stimey-ish yesterday) of Where Does Our Food Come From Week. Tomorrow: peach pie. And bread. And homemade butter.

Bring it.

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