Went over to Pat Utter's porch with Cathy Nagle the other dayand there was Pat sitting in a chair with the largest bowl I have ever seen on her lap... picking the little stems off of what seemed like a million Elderberries.
For those who do not know what they look like they are miniature berries attached to a stalk with miniature stems that you have to pull off....time consuming...Oh Yeah!
My friends Nellie and Pauline would go picking and then spend hours with TWEEZERS picking the little stems off of them...hours and hours of work. They were also so possesive of their patch of bushes you had to be "in" to know where they were, and of who got the berries from those bushes.
One year we all went Elderberrying (as I called it) and it was a banner year. They totted home bags and bags of the tiny fruit... and so did I. I also put together the Labor Day picnic out in my side yard and all the neighbors gathered for the last big hurrah of the summer... with yes... fresh elderberry pie as dessert.
During the festivities a friend Marlene stopped and seeing the elderberry pie exclaimed that her mother was just talking about them...too bad she could no longer get around...and Marlene wished she could get some...so her and her mom could do their tradition of cleaning and baking a pie. So I gave her my bag that they could clean together and bake with... This gesture was not welcomed by my neighbors...in unison "Why my nerve giving away elderberries from "their" patch!" I was shocked.
So not wanting to offend I climbed Lebanon Hill and went to where I was told there was a stash and picked two bags full and brought them to then as a peace offering...where as tradition had it, Pauline sat for hours pulling the little stems with covetous glee....
I am sure that everywhere in this rural area there are home freezers filled with berries that will never be used...but that seem like the thing to have stored...
Pat said, "And they are FREE!" Hmmmm $3.89 a gallon for gas to run around in your car to get them, hours cleaning and storing, electricity to freeze them...but free for the picking...AND OF COURSE....TRADITION!
Here is a link to my other article and below a poem....
As August’s sun heats the hills,
And balmy breezes fill the air,
We set about in bright green color,
Searching for the fruit of summer there.
Up steep hills, across the pasture,
Down against the forest’s wall,
We seek a tiny little prize:
The smallest berry of them all.
Then about a tattered building,
In a patch thick and tall,
We spot the booty we were seeking
And try quite quick to pick them all.
The gleaming dark purple color
Gives a clue to what they’ll be:
For in a pie or in a bottle,
The fruit is the “Elderberry”.