The snow banks are reaching towards the power lines as I dream about the grass growing again and the new garden plans and the baby chicks we will order in March. It has been a record cold month and the east coast has been pummeled with snow for two and a half months. Oh, February is definitely the time for summer dreaming. Winter is too long and pushes us right to the edges of ourselves, our pantry, our well stocked freezer, and our patience. So, what can I do but reach deep into the freezer and bake a warm gooey strawberry rhubarb crisp!? Dreaming of warmer days so soon to come…
Oh, sweet summer time. It is so fleeting here in the northeast, we are lucky to see all the fullness of the seasons. Our family likes to explore every element and season as it comes. And in the summer, we try our best to drink up every. single. moment. of bright sun and long lazy days while also getting the most out of our land and farm. It is certainly the greatest and busiest time! When all the blossoms are shining their faces to the sun, and the plants emerge and flourish with fresh rains and long days, I seek out the earliest morning light and search for berries.
We walk through the woods with eyes cast downward for the right shades of ripe berries. And quickly, with a swift intake of breath, aha! The spot. Not only a few deep blue hiding under a leaf but clusters, the color coming through all the new bright greens against the deep acidic soil. I love picking blueberries. We plant ourselves and stuff ourselves and fill our baskets. Our yard and the neighbors’ yards have some established raspberry and blackberry brambles free for the picking as long as you don’t mind the scratches. We found the cutest tiny alpine strawberries dotting our land and all the forest around us. Last summer, we bought our house and I started paying attention what was growing like never before, just simply because it was ours. But, I am part squirrel and part bear. I wanting to eat my way through the bush, and tuck my finds away for winter.
We venture up mountains and along trails wrapping around lakes and ponds. I ask friends for their favorite places and share some of my favorite spots too. Those who despise rhubarb share the bounty and I often have cleared out whole plants so others can benefit from more space in their garden. All free, foraged food for the taking and for sharing! I like to bring the kiddo for the fun of picking and exploring new forests and farms and to taste the freshest ripest best fruit she has ever had. Loaded up, cheeks warmed and sweat pouring off our bodies we jump in the lake on the way home and get to work cleaning and hulling and processing all the fruits of our labors. The bounty gives me freedom to try new jam recipes or to tuck the berries away for future smoothies, baking additions, and topping my yogurt. I even found I could start helping farms with labor and glean some of their organic and beautiful produce too! Helping with weed for feed at a local farm gave us pounds and pounds of strawberries, which were calling to me this February afternoon. The house shook from the icy winds and I flinched every time the porch wood froze and popped in the below zero weather. I weighed my frozen ingredients… and found just enough strawberries and rhubarb for my favorite treat! 8 months pregnant, so done with winter, and dreaming of bright tangy flavors of summer.