Saturday, August 09, 2008

Blueberry Picking

Summertime and the living is easy, especially if you're Ethan. A recent day trip took us to Sauvie Island, a rural idyll just to the North of Portland in the middle of the Columbia river. It is a haven for three recreational activities: lying on the beach, fruit picking and, at harvest time, a giant "maize." The beach is frankly a disappointment; rammed full of Portlanders too lazy to drive to the coast, a greyish sand unsuitable for construction and a fairly steep incline from land to river, leaving little space or possibility for paddling. The giant maize is yet to be experienced. The fruit picking, however, awfully enjoyable; the farms are all geared up for the incoming townies with refreshment stands, rosy-cheeked farm girls passing out maps and ubiquitous "u-pick" boxes and, more often than not a "petting zoo" / baby farm animal area for the little ones to enjoy. 'Tis a far cry from hopping onto the back of a truck outside the mission at 5am and breaking your back all day in the burning sun for a couple of bucks per hour, thank goodness; remarkably it's also far less expensive than buying berries in the store gathered by such methods. Ethan is terrifically fond of a blueberry and pretty much the ideal height to attack the diminutive shrubs; after some coaching he was even able to distinguish the greenish unripe berries from their purple brethren and seemed especially to enjoy dropping them into the pick-your-own bucket. Also on offer - raspberries and marionberries, the latter being a local variant on the blackberry with a hint of the loganberry about them, more thickset than the average blackberry and on the red, rather than the blue, side of purple.

Professor Chaos casts a critical eye over the harvest, then picks away regardless.

Ethan and I recently took a trip to see the chicks being reared by my colleague Ada and her husband. It is legal to keep up to three chickens per household in Multnomah County. However they can only be ordered in sets of 24 which left her with a temporary excess. Almost unbelievably they arrive by post.

This one, called "Freckles" is Ada's favourite and "a keeper." She is almost certainly about six times the size and very feathery by now. Ethan was also quite enamoured with the chicks and has mentioned them several times subsequently, though we have not been back since.