What I did over Labor Day Weekend

Ever since I read The Fruit Hunter, I’ve been dying to find a paw paw or persimmon tree here in my neck of the woods. Theoretically, both are here…I just haven’t found either one yet.

But then, I didn’t want to set my sights too high (there’s nothing so disappointing as coming home from a day spent morel-hunting absolutely empty-handed). So I suggested to my darling husband that we spend part of the weekend looking for edible wild fruit. Hoping for paw paws but willing to settle for, say, chokecherries.

With the Bean off at her grandparents’ house, Michael and I packed a picnic and took Sweet Pea to a nearby park. I sowed a few guerrilla grape vines around the ancient picnic table (for future fruit-seekers). Then we waded into the narrow strip of woodland separating the park from some neighboring homes.

The first plant we came across was the nettle. Lots of nettles. Lots and lots and lots of nettles. Good thing we wore jeans!

The first fruit-bearing plant we found was a small tree in a shallow ravine, set right up against the fence line and unshaded by the bulk of the taller trees. The berries were bright red and quite small. I thought they were probably highbush cranberries, but I wasn’t entirely sure, so I only picked a handful. I also took a photograph of the tree and picked a few leaves to allow for more precise identification later.

cranberries

Turns out I was right–now I wish I had picked more. How can I cook with a dozen tiny berries?

Nearby was a very small plant–not even 24 inches high–bearing roughly a dozen blueberry-like fruits. The leaves in particular were very interesting, but I could not identify the berries. Mr. Google is stumped as well.

mystery berries

Next up was a small bush with tiny oval leaves and tiny oval fruit. The berries were mostly green, but a few orangey tinges made me believe they just haven’t ripened yet. Again, no positive ID.

green ovals

Our fourth find looked extremely promising. Small blue grape-like fruit on bright pink grape-like stems. But then the alarms sounded–the leaves did not resemble grape leaves in the slightest.

poison berries

Alas. According to Wild Seasons, I had picked either Woodbine or Virginia creeper berries–both of which are poisonous.

Finally we exhausted our little portion of woodlands. It had been about an hour and a half, and we decided it was probably time to head home. But I wanted to check out a few trees we had seen driving into the park, so we made a quick pass.

And this is when we hit the biggest jackpot of the day, for we found tree after tree of crabapples!

crabapples

I only picked a handful (again, for identification before consumption), but there were so many trees in such accessible places…I could easily return with the girls and a bucket later this week. We’d harvest a gallon in less than an hour, I’m sure.

So the search was a success. Yay! No paw paws, but I’m not giving up hope. Perhaps after I’ve finished processing the grocery sack full of wild grapes my parents gave us, the dozen zucchini and summer squash littering my kitchen counters and the three bags of field corn tripping us up every night…

Well, perhaps next year.

blue eyes

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4 Responses to “What I did over Labor Day Weekend”

  1. Dixie Says:

    Looks like a fun relaxing day. I am so longing for some outdoor adventure time, but it’s still too hot here. Need air! help!!! Love you all. How much does Sweet Pea look like you? 🙂

    • fractone Says:

      Too hot! Mutter, mutter. Do you know it was in the thirties here a few nights ago?

      Does Sweet Pea look like me? I don’t know; it’s hard to be objective. She does look an awful lot like Bean did as a baby.

  2. jocelyn Says:

    so adventurous! 🙂 Hope sweet pea is well! Miss you!

  3. JimmyBean Says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

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