The older I get, the more important it becomes for me to reconnect with the places and traditions of my childhood. Perhaps, it's a way of better understanding myself or maybe it's a way to pump the brakes on the stresses of middle age by reaching back to the days when I didn't have to worry about bills or taking care of elderly parents.
Picking fruit always reminds me of gathering, canning and freezing produce with mama when I was growing up. It seemed like such a chore back then. All of that washing, blanching and slicing. The heat of the kitchen when those jars were boiling on the stove and the endless bean snapping was miserable to a kid who would rather be roaming the countryside on a bicycle or playing in the shade. The year mama made enough homemade kraut to feed all of Massac County was almost my breaking point. My actual breaking point was passing out from the heat in the midst of some blackberry bushes and getting eaten up by chiggers while sitting in the grass waiting to feel well enough to walk back to the house. I stomped back into the house declaring that I would NEVER EVER pick blackberries again.
I'm glad for those experiences, now, and for the knowlege that I can make jellies and relishes and store garden tomatoes for chili and soups. Picking berries today is a way of remembering where I come from and reconnecting with those memories, and that's what I was thinking about yesterday morning while picking blackberries at Quint's in Massac County. The smell of the produce in my hands, the sweat on my neck and the sounds of nature brought back lots of childhood summer memories.
And Mr. Quint? He was one of my elementary school teachers. Reconnecting is good for the soul.
Thanks to the Quints for being so gracious and letting me take photos.