Rainy Day Blueberries

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's been nothing but rain, rain, rain here at Blueberry Barn and I am feeling the effects of cabin fever set in. This is no good since it's not even winter yet - whatever will I do when it's 5 degrees out and the snow is piled up to the rafters? Well, lets not think about that now (though I can hear Quinn saying "Skiing! We'll go skiing!"). There's always cleaning and laundry and baking to be done but how about something outside the barn? How about we brave the ever-present rain and go looking for blueberries!

We did time our excursion out the barn door perfectly it seems, for the rain really wasn't too bad and it even stopped after a time. The thing about Juneau rain is that, though it may be constant, it never often gets to be harder than a drizzle. So as long as you have a raincoat (Juneauites don't believe in the use of umbrellas, those are for tourists) you are more than ready to face the temperate rain forest.

Off we went, jars and baskets at the ready. Quinn and I freeze our blueberries for use later in the year. We have large gallon bags just sitting in the freezer, ready for whenever the mood strikes us for some blueberry pancakes or blueberry muffins (not to mention a blueberry pie!). Our stores from last year were practically nonexistent, and the bushes around our home - for what the barn is named - offered less than we had hoped for. It seems the lack of sunshine this summer has had a terrible effect on the bushes (and Mom's garden as well sadly), so off we went in search of better bushes elsewhere.

Thankfully the bushes near the end of Douglas Island - where Blueberry Barn resides - must have received more sun than our bushes back at home. Though they weren't covered like last year (nor was the sun shining) we felt very blessed as we carefully picked over the bushes.

When I had gone over our bushes back at the barn, Greta and Lupin had accompanied me. Lupin, upon discovering what I was doing (and how tasty the blueberries were) started putting her large toothy mouth wherever my hand went! Not only did she get quite a few blueberries that were meant to go into my basket, but she bit me accidentally as well, the silly thing. Lupin did not come with us on this adventure, for I did not want a repeat of the day prior, and I didn't want any more bites from her sharp puppy teeth. Don't feel too sorry for her though, I make sure to bring her and Greta out together whenever I'm just walking about the yard and garden - when there is no chance they can sneak off with a whole blueberry branch.
Look at all those berries! We certainly hit the jackpot with this particular patch! 

As you can see from Quinn's hand here, blueberries dye your fingers and palms a red color, hard to wash off after an hour or two of picking (and not to mention sticky!). But though the work is time consuming, what a joy to fill several buckets or jars and to go home with your sweet treasure. 

As we filled our jars it started to get dark and we decided to walk Greta to the end of the trail before heading back to the car. The forest was quiet, just a few drops of water falling from the sodden branches of the spruce and hemlock. Drip, drip! Greta's paws on the board walk made a light tumbling sound, sounding more like a bunny rabbit than a corgi.
Here I am wearing the newest kuspuk that Melissa - my mother-in-law - has made for me. The sleeves are long, though I have them bundled up here in this photo, and the hood is in the back though it's hard to see it here. 

The kuspuk is a traditional Native Alaskan garment that was used as a covering for the fur and skin parkas to keep them clean. Traditional kuspuks were baggy and more like the sweatshirts we see in today's fashion. Now, kuspuks can be made more form fitting, such as this one by Melissa, who has developed her own pattern. 

Melissa has made kuspuks for years, mostly for the family to wear during shows as the Alaska String Band. She continues this amazing art and has started to teach myself and her daughters to make them as well. 

The board walk trail led us to a path crowned in alder trees, then to a cliff overlooking the sea. Greta had a fun time running around in the rocks, while Quinn and I combed the beach for buried treasure. We didn't find any (for we had neglected to bring a shovel, haha!), but Quinn did find a bull kelp plant, not often seen on our beaches. He was very proud of his find and swung and whipped it around the remainder of our stay.


Greta was looking quite wet as we started the journey back home, no doubt looking forward to the warm heater back in the kitchen. Like her I was also looking forward to a warm room and a chance to wash my hands in some hot water. After a couple hours spent outside I guess my cabin fever had diminished somewhat. It was time to go and freeze our blueberries and to dream about all the yummy things we would soon make with them...muffins and cobblers, pies and pancakes, ice cream and jam, oh the yummy possibilities!

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