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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Olallieberries U-pick, or Me-pick, rather

(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, you might want to click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.

This is the tail end of Olallieberry season in Northern California, so when my friends Beccy and Sean asked me to join them to pick olaillieberries at a farm just north of us on the coast highway, I jumped at the chance.

Have you had olallieberries? If not, you really should try. I love them. I mean, how could you not love a berry whose name is pronounced oh-la-la berries. Ok, some people say oh-la-lee berries, but I much prefer saying oh-la-la. Makes me happy just saying the name. It's a cross between something called Loganberry and youngberry. Don't look at me, I am just clueless at this as you are. Go check out Wikipedia yourself.

We drove up the gorgeous coast from Santa Cruz, and just twenty minutes later we arrived at Swanton berry farm, right off the Highway 1, with the ocean shimmering just over there. The farm happily provides a fleet of Radio Flyers and wooden boxes with wood and wire carriers for the berry pickers' convenience. The basic rule is, you pick just as many as you'd like - what you eat while picking is fair game and doesn't count - and then take the basket to weigh and pay on the way out. Quite civilized, really.

This was my first time picking berries at one of these U-pick farms that are everywhere around here. I actually wasn't as bad at it as I had feared. I even had fun doing it - though I felt my city girl cred slipping away with every berry I picked.

What did I think of the entire experience? Let me sum it up for you this way, u-pick berries, especially the ones you pick from thorny brambles like these, are like moments of contemplative meditation - going from one tangle of brambles to another with your eyes (and your mind) finely tuned to the force to find the ripest berries - punctuated by loud, startled cries of intense pain. The brambles didn't let us pick the berries off them lying down, they put up a fight. Ouch. Did they ever put up a fight!

Now I have five pounds of olaillieberries I have to figure out what to do with. Stay tuned.


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