One such experience that I had recently was berry picking. Last Saturday, Melissa (the other teacher) and myself went out picking with a local woman, Sue. Sue drove us down a bumpy, two-track that led out to the summer fishing camp (all the houses at camp were boarded up for the season). From there, we went on a hunt for berries and tundra plants. As usual, I was amazed at the beauty and openness of the tundra landscape of my new home.
For my part, I've long been a berry picker, and I grew up in an agricultural hotspot. There's something just so different about berry picking here in the Alaskan Bush though. It's sharply contrasting to the U-Pick farms in Michigan, or even to the groomed trails with their abundant berries in the mountains outside of Juneau.
Here, in Pilot Point, there are no berry bushes. The berries grow in thick little clusters, scattered across the tundra. This means that all berry picking is done in a sitting or squatting position. Blueberries are much smaller than those in the lower 48 and SE Alaska. They taste quite similar though and require handpicking and much care. Comparatively, blackberries and cranberries are quite hardy and can be picked with a "picker." These pickers are magical, and allowed me to collect a ridiculous amount of blackberries. I did collect a few cranberries too, but mostly I am saving my picking of those until after the first frost (they are supposed to be much better after that).
The tundra itself makes berry picking in Pilot Point unique too. If you've never been on the tundra, imagine it as a plush mattress or trampoline. The ground is so squishy that you sink several inches with every step. It also holds an incredible amount of moisture, which will quickly soak the knees of your pants as you kneel to pick berries. I learned my lesson about the wetness of the tundra quickly after kneeling to handpick a few blueberries.
After only a couple of hours I had over 1/2 gallon of berries to show for my hard work. I was hot, sweaty, and feeling incredibly happy and content. This feeling of happiness was only added to by the sheer vastness of the tundra, the great company of my new friends, and the delicious berries that I took home to pack away for winter.
Your turn...What are some of your favorite everyday adventures?
Currently listening to...Alaska - Maggie Rogers