Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Prairie Pie


On the prairies, pies come in two forms.
The edible.
And the inedible.
One kind is made from prairie fruit.
The other comes from cows.
One smells wonderful.
The other . . . doesn't.
Just FYI.
Sooo . . . prairie fruit.
This comes in the form of raspberries, strawberries, some apples, choke cherries and saskatoons.
The first three are grown mostly in gardens.
The latter two, in the creases and folds of the landscape near water.
The first three can be picked at any time during the summer, as they ripen.
The last two need planning.
Especially the saskatoons.
Their picking requires a family adventure.
And that's where the fun comes in.
Sometime in the summer, Mom's stack of pails would magically appear.
It was the signal for all of us kids to quickly get into our swimming suits because we were making a trip to the river to pick berries and go for a swim.
The best of times.
Mom had several favourite berry-picking spots.
All of them thick with bushes.
And none of them near our house.
She would load us, our pails and our towels, into the car.
And in a cloud of dust, we were off.
The saskatoon bushes started at the top of the cliff.
And grew downward.
Toward the river.
You had to move carefully.
And hang on.
Like little goats, we would scamper all over those bushes.
Picking.
Or pretending to pick.
Mom's plan was always to have each of us fill a bucket.
Simple enough.
If kids hadn't also come equipped with mouths.
One handful into the bucket.
One handful into the mouth.
And so it went.
After a while, each of us would have half a bucket of berries.
A blue mouth.
And full tummy.
With the hot, summer sun shining down, the smell of baking sage and grass in ones nostrils, and one's family gathered around, it was pure heaven.
Then we would swim.
And to top it off, fresh saskatoon pie when we got home.
Did I mention the best of days?

P.S. Picking chokecherries wasn't nearly as much fun.
For one thing, they are SOUR.
But they make the nicest syrup.
And that is another story.




16 comments:

  1. Awwww...look at those little sweeties all dreaming of pie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All of my youngest granddaughters. And, believe me, they can sure pack it away!

      Delete
  2. You have the cutest grandkids - seriously.

    We used to pick wild strawberries, wild blueberries and wild raspberries. It was usually my Dad who took us; he knew all the good spots. Hmm ... I wonder how he knew that? I must ask him!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you, Jenny! Dad's always know the best spots. Probably from a life of mischief . . .

      Delete
  3. I've never heard of saskatoons? Such great memories of your childhood, it sounds lovely and magical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've also heard them called 'service' berries. It was such a special time. I can still smell the bushes and the dust in the air and the mud of the river. And feel the hot sun on my skin. Sigh.

      Delete
  4. A time gone by. No one does it better than you. Love this berry-picking post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you, Carol! What a sweet thing to say! :)

      Delete
  5. That was a lovely trip down memory lane and reminded me of my friends and I going blackberrying. You can image the mess we were when we'd finished...our mothers would be beside themselves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, but the fun was totally worth it, right?

      Delete
  6. I love your precious pictures. You describe a lovely day. I wish life was more like that day.
    Blessings and hugs for this sweet one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish we could have a few more of those days again, too!

      Delete
  7. You have adorable grandchildren. This brought back memories of picking strawberries and blueberries in my grandpap's garden. Very good times and good memories. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kathy! I like them, too! What is there about a grandparent's garden? Just the mention brings the memories trooping back . . .

      Delete
  8. Saskatoons? Are they a type of blueberry?
    Love the photos, every single child there is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've also heard them called serviceberries, River. And thank you. I think they're cute, but I'm totally prejudiced! :)

      Delete

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