Brush that Stout off your Back! And Mind the Hornets!


Its that time of year, or it was when I was younger anyway, berry pickin time!

Really I guess there are multiple berry picking times, we go for Bakeapples in July usually, and Partridgeberries in September or even October, but when you mention berries to me, the first that come to mind are Raspberries and Blueberries, probably because they were so plentiful so close to home.

We’d sometimes go as a family, but often as not, I would go alone, or me and Eric would go off somewhere. We didn’t have to look very far usually. I loved picking blueberries, not sure why them since there was more bending over, but I did. There was a patch just to the right of the old road leading from the old school garden in Apsey Brook, and there was no trouble to pick a gallon or more there in a short time, some as big as marbles.

Whats odd to me, is that I never really cared for raw blueberries, I find the kinda tasteless, but still loved picking them. But once they were home and in a blueberry pudding, well then, yum!

Raspberries on the other hand, I loved raw, but disliked picking. There were a couple of reasons for that I guess. One, they were hard to pick clean (ie: with no leaves and all good berries) mainly because they ripened fast and spoiled fast and you’d always have some ones with spots on them. Another reason was there were always stouts around. Anyone from Newfoundland knows what a stout is, annoying as hell, always pitching on your back, bites as hard as hell when they do, and nearly impossible to swat. They have a black bar across their wings, and apparently are properly known as deer flies.

And lastly another reason I hated picking them was because a lot of the bushes grew amongst old dead falls back home, or at least the easily accessible ones, and there was always a hornets nest somewhere around. Even if you didn’t step in a nest, you were likely to get a sting from a hornet somewhere along the line. nasty bastards, they are mean, and like to sting just for pleasure I think.

The thought of stouts and hornets always reminds me of Lloyd Colbourne and Newfoundland Outdoors. There was an episode where I can remember now Lloyd saying “Brush that stout off your back there Bryce!”

Bakeapple Led

Back home, when someone went astray, or got disoriented, the old folks would say they were fairy led. As in led astray by the fairies.  Well there were no fairies involved in this story, but we were definitely astray!

Bakeapples, or as they are known in some parts, cloud berries, are a favorite back home.  They are very sweet, with a sticky consistency, that’s great for jams and to top other things with.  Mom has been known to make a bakeapple tart in the same manner as people make partridge berry tarts.

I was never a big fan of them myself, I do like them, but find them overwhelmingly sweet, and don’t want a lot of them.  But for some reason, one summer, around the same time as now, prior to me moving away to Nova Scotia, Bernard and I decided to go bakeapple picking.

On the upper end of Random Island, there is a big big barren where bakeapples grow.  One thing about bakeapples though is that they grow one berry per plant, nearly on the ground, and the plants are often 6 inches to several feet apart.  We went through the woods at the tv tower, and walked through the short bit of woods till we got in on the barren.  We then walked till we found some berries and got down to picking.

The big issue though is that once you’re in the middle of a barren, with your head down, when you look up all the directions look pretty much the same.  We picked and picked till we were both tired and later evening was coming on, and then decided to make our way out of the woods.  Well of course when we looked up, nothing looked much different than anything else.  Luckily the barren was up on a rise, and we could see water, but unluckily, Random Island is an island, and water was visible in many directions.  Also unfortunately trees blocked some of the view, so we could only see water in the distance, and not see the bar bridge.

Well there was nothing for it, but to pick a direction and start walking and so we did, for what seemed like hours till we got to the edge of the barren and found a path.  We decided to follow it, with no better plan, and it shortly intersected with a much larger path, which turned out to be the road that someone whose name now escapes me had at the upper edge of the island for their mill.

We finally made it back to the road, and started our hike back to the car which was about 2 or 3 miles back at the old tv tower.  Not much traffic on the island, so we were resigned to walking the whole way, when finally a car came by, and who did it turn out to be?  Dad and Mom!  So of course the picked us up and carried us back to the car, from where we finally made our way home after being …… bakeapple led.

The Other Currant

Description : White Currant Auteur : Jastrow | 兔 (2004)

A friend/relative (Waves at Meghan) mentioned today that she had been given some black currant jelly.  This reminded me of “the other currant”.  Back home, in the garden of the home that Meghan is actually restoring, Aunt May had some black currant and red currant bushes, and they’d always be absolutely loaded with berries.

Lesser known though was out across the garden a little, near the path from running to Uncle Hay’s there was a white currant bush.  While I know some people love black and red currants, I could never take to them, at least not raw, they do make good jelly;  I have recipes here using red currant jelly for glazes and the like.

But I’ve rarely heard of many talking about white currants, and noone seemed to actually pick them, well except me.  They were sort of transparent, as you can see in the picture, full of seeds, and looked somewhat like a small gooseberry.  But god were they delicious!

The bush was smaller than the red and black currant bushes, and the berries themselves were smaller, but sooooo good.  I wonder what the jam or jelly from these would be like?

Meghan, start cooking some later in summer!