My friend Charity came over to spend the day. She is a brilliant, young college student with a real love for nature and people. Charity is a perfect name for this beautiful, giving girl.
She and I were talking about jams when I realized it is nearly time for the wild elderberries to be ripe. Now there is a very very small window of opportunity between unripe berries and full happy birds. They cherish the Elderberry just as much as I do so it's a race every year to see who gets to them first. If I do get to them, I can usually make at least one batch of Elderberry jam!
Charity and I stopped immediately, threw on our rubber boots, and headed out toward the creek. She is ALWAYS game for my nutty antics but I don't think she expected what happened next.
I think I mentioned that my husband is always trying to take back bits of the property that have overgrown. It seems that last winter he managed to cut down my large Elderberry bush. Charity and I stared at area trying to hunt them down. Finally, we discovered a smaller bush on the far side of the creek. It's luscious blue berries were dangling over the center of the creek, full and beautiful. It has been a fairly dry couple of weeks so we stepped a little closer to the creek. I stopped short and told Charity that it's just too muddy and forget it. I think the power of the berries started calling her name. She crept closer, assuring me she could reach them. As she put one boot in the inch deep water she SUNK. Nearly knee deep in mud!!!! I said, again, forget it. She just kept leaning and leaning toward them. It was like Tantalus submerged in the water, unable to reach food or drink from the river, but still trying. Finally she stepped in with her other foot, sunk in, and grasped the first berries. We were so excited that we didn't even think about how we were going to get her out of there.
After picking the entire bush clean she tried to pull her foot out. It was as if someone super glued them in. I pulled and laughed and pulled. We decided the best coarse of action is to remove her foot from the boot and them try to free the boot. I stood on the shore, holding Charity's hand, while she balanced on one foot and tugged at the boot with her other hand. She looked like some sort of a sick ballerina. NO LUCK! Finally, she plunged her entire arm into the mud and freed the boot. Repeat the process...other boot free. If you could see us both laughing, elbow deep in mud, you would likely wet yourself.
Now for the bad part. I carried the bucket up to the house and set it on the kitchen floor. We cleaned up and I LEFT it there. A couple hours later I decided to start pulling the berries of when I discovered my darling 6 month old Golden Retriever had chewed up the entire bucket of berries. Not just chewed up, but smashed, tossed, chewed, flung, and played with them. I had elderberries all over my kitchen and my dog! Oh, and guess what? Elderberries stain EVERYTHING. NO JAM, BIG MESS.
Clean up on aisle 6!!!