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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Berry Picking: Is It Really an Addiction?

Point Bridget Trail: Photo by Matt Klostermann

Although I wouldn't put berry picking into the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV), there is an addictive quality about it. Last weekend, I went hiking with a friend on the Point Bridget Trail, one that is stunningly beautiful most times of the year.

I had stuffed a small Ziplock in my backpack just in case there were a few late blueberries still on the trail. That's like a gambler bringing 10 bucks to the casino just in case there is a blackjack table going. At first we strolled along, oblivious to berry possibilities, warming our faces in the sun, until we saw a woman with a gallon sized Ziplock, slipping from bush to bush like a wraith. Her bag was chock full of high bush cranberries. Once she identified them for us, we saw them everywhere. 
High Bush Cranberries on Point Bridget Trail

It was harmless at first: a few berries here, another few there. They were so seductive. Each patch yielded more than we expected at first. It was like hitting the jackpot. The more we picked, the more we saw. Soon we were plunging into the thickets of cranberries and the Devil's Club with their prickly stalks that seemed to grow near them. My arms got scratched up, but I hardly felt it. The little Ziplock was filling up... and still there were more berries. Time slipped by as we stopped again and again on our way to the beach at the end of the trail. We felt a little desperate. There were so many berries and around each corner, another luscious patch, smelling so spicy and earthy.

Point Bridget Trail
We finally said "OK, one more bush, and then no more." (We had to say this more than once.) Our bag could hardly hold any more berries and I was considering emptying out my water bottle to fill it up with berries. But instead, we walked to the beach, and then sedately returned along the same trail, stopping only once to cram in "just a few more" to the bag, now bursting and weighing several pounds. It took a supreme effort of will to stop, but we did. We quit cold turkey.

At home, when we poured them out to clean, we couldn't believe how many we actually had. Now those berries are in the freezer. We are considering what to make with them: Cranberry Catsup, Cranberry Jelly, or Cranberry Chutney. We don't have enough to make all three. I know another place that is pretty close by that has high bush cranberries. I find that my thoughts keep turning to that place. I'll bet there are plenty there. It wouldn't take long to pick them...

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