Wednesday, August 16, 2017
When I entered the scene in 2005, huckleberry picking was a longstanding tradition. It was so special, that I wasn't allowed to go until after we were married. We were married in August of 2008, and as our honeymoon, we did some camping on our own and then ended the trip at Mt. Adams in the huckleberry fields with Andrew's family. The family attendance that year was low because everyone had just traveled to be at our weddings - but Andrew's parent's were there, along with Lou and Jenna, Terry and Christina + their kids, and Uncle Dick and Aunt Louise. I love that our honeymoon included this tradition - I had finally earned my right to attend! No way, I was going to pass that up! And since 2008, there has only been one year that we've missed.
As you can imagine, with all the years that the family has been going, there are so many stories to tell! There are family-famous stories I've heard, like when Andrew, cousins Maria, and Katie, got lost in the woods trying to find a frog pond... and first-hand stories that I was part of - like the year we only found one - ONLY ONE - berry!
This tradition builds our family culture. These camping trips are the fuel for the stories my children will tell.
As I washed and measured the berries just an hour ago, I was thinking of all these stories with a smile. Traditions like this are just so special. John helped me wash the berries and I knew in my heart, he will carry it on. I'm sure the others will too, but he is getting old enough to hold these moments as sacred. He did a lot of picking this year and to honor that, I let him label a bag as "John's berries - 2017". Later, I will show him how to make a pie and we'll share it with some special friends. Because that's what we do - the camping lasts only 2 days, but the berries last all year, sometimes longer (we're pretty stingy with our berries!), waiting patiently in the freezer for a special occasion. John knows what goes into a pie. It takes a long time to pick a pies-worth of berries. He knows when we make a pie, there better be no berries left on anyone's plate! That's a cardinal St.Hilaire rule... deeply instilled in us by Grandpa St.Hilaire. Today as John helped cleaned the berries, one fell in the sink and John *gasped* and quickly retrieved it. Yes, he knows. The berries are valuable, but truthfully it's the family. That's what the berries symbolize. He'll take his kids picking. I'd bet money on it. And he'll share these stories and his memories.
PS. For the record - we got 7 pies this year, including John's.