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Gary Shaw: It’s time to hit the blueberry patch

Walk on the Wild Side
Walk on the Wild Side - SaltWire Network

LABRADOR CITY, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

As folks from Labrador, many of us find ourselves being closely tuned into what each of our seasons brings to us. Many of us are outdoor people who use the seasons and Mother Nature’s signals to direct us to the next activity that is important to us.

For those folks among us who are blueberry people, we are finally out and on the go in our favourite places to go “picking”. Picking blueberries finds many of us in the same places that we have been using for years.

It’s part of our culture. Whether we have an early season or a late season, whether we have lots of big fat blueberries to pick or fewer and smaller blueberries, it doesn’t seem to matter, we are still out there to enjoy the harvest.

This annual harvest is important to us for a number of reasons. It’s an annual event that we look forward to, the trip to the patch that has been like a magnet to us for a long time, continues its draw. The outdoors, the days that we get of good temperatures, and spending time outdoors with the bounty of our efforts in having a bucket full of these little treasures, are the constant reminder of what this annual tradition brings to us.

What we do with our blueberries is only limited by our imaginations. We make pies, jam, jellies, muffins and pancakes. Our blueberries find their way on to our cheesecakes and are even made into wine. Perhaps the best way to eat them might be sitting on the hill in a comfortable place with a good view and eating a few handfuls as we pick them.

In the bigger picture, these little berries are described as the “super fruit”. The health benefits from eating these berries have a long list of benefits. Studies have shown that consuming these berries aids in digestion, slows the breakdown of bones, and lowers the risk of heart disease. They are also full of antioxidants and help in reducing belly fat. Berries are full of valuable vitamins, said to help in improving vision, aids in the prevention of cancer and enhances a positive mood. All of this with the best part of all, they taste really good.

For us folks locally, we all know how late in the year that we got to see this years spring arrive. This of course with all of our plant development and growth, affected our blueberries as well. We had a late start, which also gave us a later finish to the maturity of our berries this year. That being said though, we have had good temperatures and timely rains to give us a pretty good crop of berries. The down side to this type of season shows in the size of the berries, they are smaller than normal, however, they seem to be finishing strong with a spurt of late season growth.

I went up to Smokey Mountain the other day for a look and a taste of this year’s crop. The good news was that there was a fine bunch of berries on the bushes. The bad news was that there was an even bigger crop of blackflies. There’s always something!

I met up with Don Woodford settled in and picking away at the berries. Don is and old veteran of many seasons of berry picking on Smokey and he was having a successful day. He was clearly in his element and was not only enjoying his day, but was well prepared for any eventuality.

He had his buckets, his fly repellent, his bear spray and his smile on his face as he enjoyed his day on the hill.

This time of year and the annual blueberry harvest is indeed a part of what Don and many among us like him represent. It is a part of our lives that represent the very fabric of who we are as Labradorians.

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