Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Contentment Defined: Berry-picking on the tundra
I think I once thought salmonberries (or cloudberries; I don't know which they are truly) were an aquired taste. I can't imagine, now, life without that tart slipperiness, that hard seed exploding between my teeth. And now my girls need never know life without it.
So solemn, like Esther and Jasmine are partaking in a sacred ritual involving food of goddessess....:)Iris figuring out that there are good things to pick up and put in her mouth on the tundra:Katie is a good berry buddy:Iris with a wild tundra Iris flower -- I found out the Yup'ik name for this plant, but it was hard for me to remember. I'll find it out soon and write it down.
When we went that day, most of the berries were not ripe yet -- they were still dark red and hard. But after the advice of three people that picking them unripe is OK if you're going to freeze them, as they will soften after being frozen, I decided to take advantage of the most gorgeous weather day all summer and go pick as many as I could find, ripe or not. Here Esther decides to use a plant as a mike and play tundra idol:
Melody was our berry partner this day:
And here is what makes it all possible without being too hard on our tender tundra: the hard plastic road:
It has been built and steadily extended over the past few summers by various folks employed by a village organization -- it's SUCH a good idea. The plastic is REALLY hard and heavy mesh, like a grid, and it makes it so that it can kind of sink into wet places and muddy places, but it won't get warped as easily as wood would, and since the 4 wheeler can go through shallow spots of water and mud, it just adds some traction down under that. And then the places where the creeks can get high because of the tide, there is a bridge-structure with the black plastic on top that can kind of rise or fall depending on the tide. I am so grateful for the inception and building of this road, because now I can get out further on the tundra than I would by walking with two children and all our crap (yes, there it is, piled up on the front of the honda), I can get through the mucky places by myself without worrying about getting stuck or driving like a maniac to get through them, and I can do it all without destroying the tundra that I love... *sigh*