Tag Archive: berries

Thursday 5 July 2012

With the Fourth of July behind me, I finally found time to begin my summer foraging. You remember last August’s post “…and about 10% black bear”. This morning, I revived the bicycle part of that story. I have a few favorite spots to look for wild berries along the roadside. One time, I picked nearly three pints of black raspberries in one spot.

Bicycling around Hamilton, NY, is pretty awesome. You can leave town by any of the half-dozen or so roads and have your choice of terrain and views. I haven’t lived here long-term for eighteen years, but every summer, I discover new routes that, because of a lack of adventure or ambition, I never tried in my youth. One could map out a different 30-mile ride for every day of the summer, I suspect.

To the southeast, you follow the Chenango River for gentle slopes or go up and over the ridge toward the West and the Town of Eaton.

To the East, big hills separate Hamilton from Brookfield, site of some forested hiking and horseback-riding trails, and the Hubbardsville Mall (http://www.flickr.com/photos/juneny/6810780826/).

Head due south over rolling hills to tiny and cute Poolville, with one of the best restaurants in the area (The Poolville Country Store), as well as a great rural cheese shop (Jewett’s).

You can follow the old Chenango Canal to the north. Huge hills to the west on US Route 20 challenge the strength and stamina of all but the beefiest of bikers.

Lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and streams are everywhere. Fascinating historical, cultural and natural resources are scattered all around, and many, like the Oneida Community Mansion House in Sherill (New York’s smallest incorporated city) and the Gerritt Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro (Smith was a prominent abolitionist, and Peterboro “became a crossroads of human benevolence”, according to the website) are just two of a plethora of reasonable bicycle-tourism destinations from Hamilton. Next week, if you go along, we can bike to the Madison County Fair in Brookfield. It’s been going for 173 years. The Colgate Inn in the center of Hamilton has 25 beers on tap as a reward for completing the round-trip ride.

There were no berries along the route this morning.


…and about 10% black bear

21 August 2011

I walked down Shore Road from Bayside toward Lincolnville on the shore side, and divided my visual stimuli pretty equally between views of Penobscot Bay and of the interesting assortment of cottages along its shore. “I could live there. Or there. I could spend the summer there.” Some of them are pretty drool-worthy.

I walked about two miles, and after making a brief stop in the woods where there were neither cottages nor people to be seen, I turn back northward toward Bayside. Walking on the inland side of the road now, I am intrigued by my instinctive behavior. Despite the presence of ocean and cottages to delight the eyes, I can’t stop scanning the roadside for berries. Walking along at a brisk pace, my antennae are attuned to that deep-as-black purple of blackberries and the wine red of red raspberries. If I look across the road at the ocean, within seconds, I am, without thinking, again scanning the shoulder for berries.

When I go for bicycle rides in the summer near my hometown of Hamilton, NY, my pace is adversely affected by the same obsessive quest. Few things in life, it would seem, can bring me greater satisfaction than finding and eating wild berries. I can’t remember if I heard it or made it up, but I say of Putney (and, generally, all dogs) that found food is the best food. In my case, it’s specifically found berries.

I’ve also thought since I visited Norway in 1998 (when I read that Scandinavians are big berry-lovers) that I must be a closet Norwegian. If you ever find me drunk on a park bench, look around to see if there’s an empty bottle of Chambord nearby.

I know that I’m one quarter Italian, from my maternal grandmother. From my maternal grandfather, I’m a quarter mix of Irish, French and Canadian (mostly). My paternal grandmother brings a generous helping of German into the gene pool. My paternal grandfather was mostly English and Scottish, with some native Canadian. We used to say Canadian Indian, but for reasons of cultural sensitivity, I think now we’d say First Nation. That probably makes up about 10% of me.

I think they got that tenth wrong, though. Based on the berry thing, I think I’m about 10% black bear.