I was not sure what kind of tale this was going to be. I went around and around, thinking to myself, what am I going to tell you about? Disclose ... if you will. Do I venture into it all? Do I rant? Unleash? Complain about crummy cuisine and overcooked lobsters (that’s all they do for heaven’s sake!)? Ponder how people, supposedly in the tourist trade, can stink eye guests (meaning tired us) brows furrowed in suspicion and then balk, aghast that one does not want to sleep in (or pay a bleeding fortune for) what is clearly another one's son’s bedroom (proof: there were pictures of him all over it, his clothes were everywhere, a giant cross covered his giant portrait above the not so giant bed) which they are claiming, indignantly “no, no, c’est une Auberge, tout les Auberges sont comme ca” while the grandmother is scowling two feet away because we are disturbing her soaps? The list goes on (kind of literally ...as it turns out).
No, I thought. I don’t think so.
Why ever not?! You ask?
Well, dear readers, there is another story here that I wanted to tell you. One of hopes and dreams! Of struggles and of pain! And in the end …of humiliating defeat.
This, dear readers, is a story of raspberry picking.
On the last day of what was a horrifically horrible trip (it sucked, I suspect you may have guessed that), I spotted it. Saw it from the golf course across the way. It had been eluding me this whole trip. At first, I thought I had hallucinated it (I was massacred by bugs, had two huge swollen lymph nodes and was convinced veins were filled with poison). So, I walked tentatively over, took a closer peek, and it was, in fact, true. Hot damn! Right before my weary puffy eyes, was this:
A little context, if you allow.
My expectations of this trip were as follows:
- We were going to hit the road! Dear readers, the ultimate road-trip! We were going to feel free! See our land! Nothing planned! Stick it to the man! ish!
- We were going to throw ourselves into the ocean, giggling and screaming as we frolicked in the waves!
- We would come back golden and glistening from all the time spent lingering about in the sun!
- We were going to go camping! Just us! in nature! with our beautiful tent with skylights and our gourmet camping menu!
- We were going to eat beautiful meals of crabs! and lobsters! and shrimp! and clams! (and any other sea creature that was unlucky that day)! prepared myriad ways by jolly people welcoming us and excited to share their local cuisine!
- We were going to fish in the sea and I was going to realize my dream of killing a fish! Or fishing a fish! Or whatever!
- There were going to be countless raspberry farms and blueberry farms! Too many to choose from and we would come back with baskets and baskets! And make confitures! And pies!
The realities of this trip were as follows:
- I hate being in the car for prolonged periods of time. The road trip is not for me (unless I have like three months to take my time). I am a bit of a princess, I learned, and I am okay with this. I also like to have things to look forward to. The land was seen, and it was spectacular.
- There was no throwing, giggling, screaming or frolicking. Said ocean was brown and full of seaweed. Full. Full like little kids were struggling to pick it up (it was about half their body size) and throw it at one another. Shores and beaches were so rocky it was like going to an Asian reflexologist. Foot bruises were not long to follow.
- We came back, cold, white, itchy, sore, puffy and early.
- After the beating...or eating...or biting...we had taken by local crazy poisonous insects (aka black flies and some other unidentified hungry flying cretures) and this was on the "beach" we decided that perhaps venturing into a forest would be a bad idea.
- We ate said crustaceans and mollusks. They sacrificed their lives in vain. At least at restaurants they did. No one was welcoming or excited to share their local cuisine. Along the whole coast. When we had given up and had had enough of dry, overly cooked, overly salty blehghh, we went to the fish markets and farmers markets, and took matters into our own hands. We ate beautifully for the rest of the trip.
- Nothing was killed or fished. The ocean was too angry. I would be too. If I was her.
- There was not one raspberry farm claiming Come hither! Pick me! Or blueberry farm. Nothing was ready. It had been too cold and too dark and these little berries that thrive on the life that the sun gives them, had either perished from disease or, had remained green.
|Blueberries ...not yet blue ...|
This leads us here. To a golf course in Carleton. With a peek across the street, at a raspberry farm, claiming what I thought was the impossible. Come hither! Pick me! And so I went.
Hopes and dreams: I was going to take my basket! Skip (well, maybe just a little) through the raspberry fields (with my basket hanging over my arm, you know how that looks). Admire the beautiful surrounding mountains, barns and countryside! Be master strawberry picker and come out with bushel fulls or basket fulls!
|Mountains and countryside ...|
|Barns ...and countryside ...|
Struggles and pain: Yes...well... so here is the the thing, I am prone to giddy bouts of excitement, where sometimes my sheer and utter enthusiasm blocks out some of the...well...technicalities of some situations...if you will. So there was, basket in hand, silly grin on face, weary puffy eyes, ready to go.
And this. Just in case I got hungry I thought. It would go so well with the raspberries I was about to pick.
As you may imagine, this is not exactly ...shall we say ...the proper raspberry picking gear. At first, it didn't bother me. You know, the little brushes against my feet and face. The buzzing sounds around me. The slight pinches on my toes. I thought, I could handle this. Not so bad. I picked my first raspberry. And was quite thrilled with myself.
|Thrilled ...and delusional ...|
Humiliating defeat: About seven minutes in (and six berries later) the insects sent in the forces. It was an attack of unseen proportions. They had me from all sides. Biting my toes, my heels, my soles (how the heck they got under my feet I do not know),the top of my feet, my ankle bones... while their accomplices took the top half. The back of my neck and head, my eyelids, whacking and buzzing like a bunch of crazy...well...insects. Which they were. Dear readers, I hightailed it out of there faster than ...well ...something that runs really fast. Like a gazelle...or a cheetah perhaps...You get the point.
|Humiliating defeat ....|
|And six beautiful raspberries...|
Humiliated, itchy and even more puffy than when I went in, I took my six berries, confessed humiliating situation to the barn keeper, purchased some baskets of already picked berries (by people who obviously have the proper attire to face said insect army) and walked back, across the way to the golf course, to face equally eaten and defeated husband (he had to stop at eight holes, the army was too strong, he was bleeding) and to get the heck out of there. We drove ten straight hours. And then I made jam.
Time to dish.
Beautiful (not picked by me) raspberry (or blueberry) jam (I made both, at the same time)
You can't imagine how easy this is dear readers.
Here is what you need...
- Beautiful raspberries, picked by whomever, 4 cups of them
- Organic cane sugar, also 4 cups
- Juice of one lime.
Here is what to do...
- Place all your ingredients into a large pot. Stir once, gently, to incorporate everything. Gently because the raspberries are delicate and you do not want to annihilate them. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about ten minutes. Pour into sterilized jars. And seal.
Enjoy on top of lovely buckwheat crepes, (click here for recipe, still have not figured out link thing yet, shame still fills me, someone help) alongside guinea fowl or roasted chicken, in a beautiful nut butter sandwich, or, if you are like me, just dip your spoon into the jar, remove and lick.