Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

June 26, 2008

Berry-picking brings back many memories

Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream. Home-grown berries always taste better than those flown in from California and what I pick myself take on special flavor from the memories they evoke.

As I was growing up, my family spent vacation time on what had been my great-grandfather's farm in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania.

It has been allowed to deteriorate into a semi-wild, cool refuge from the heat of Philadelphia, where, every summer, a miscellaneous assortment of family and friends moved in and out of the several houses on the property.

There was no near-by commercial entertainment, so we walked in the woods, we played games, we got into long conversations and we went berry-picking.

All of the berries were wild. Strawberries were limited to the tiny, honey-sweet morsel that dotted a meadow behind our house. Red raspberries grew in several patches, though we children shunned the best of the thickets.

We had been picking there, years go, when one of our unmarried aunts suddenly shouted, "Railsnake! Run!!'' and we all rushed back to the safety of our country road.

I don't know whether Aunt Annie actually saw a rattler, coiled to strike, or had a glimpse of a suspiciously-patterned garter snake slithering out of her way. Perhaps she heard an exuberant cicada. We didn't stop to investigate. But we found excuses not to go back to the spot that we always identified as Rattlesnake Run.

Strawberries and raspberries had short seasons, but huckleberries of one kind or another were available all summer long. Nowadays they are sold as blueberries, in small containers at a high price, but for us they were available in endless quantity, free for the taking.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
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  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

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