I can't believe it's August!
How many times have you heard that since last month? July said goodbye to us for yet another year and the first of this month poked its sleepy head out from beneath wherever it is it hides until it's time to open its eyes once again, continuing to greet us with very little coolness and more scorching weather?
For some, August means still getting in as much summer vacation as any human can possibly take. For others, it's just relaxing in a wide hammock mounted 'tween two shady maple trees, finishing off that good book you started in late May and sipping an ice cold lemonade before the north winds blow sending us back to frigid temperatures while snow covers the Buckeye State and all its northern neighbors with that soft blanket of white.
Still for others it's shopping - although some never stop – for new back-to-school clothes, shoes and whatever the latest cool app is that they can add onto those thousands of apps they already have on their phones.
Not me. For me, August means elderberries. Yep, you read that right. Elderberries! That delicious, juicy fruit that only ripens by the streams and creeks in the month of August.
You see, to me nothing is more refreshing in the morning with a cup of your piping hot joe than warm toast, hot waffles or flap jacks smothered with freshly churned butter and mom's homemade elderberry jam or jelly. Nothing goes as well with a bowl of split pea soup for lunch than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with creamy peanut butter and thick, spreadable, elderberry jam or jelly.
And nothing is more satisfying than to top off a home made Yankee pot roast dinner with a big slice of Mom's right-from-the-oven, warm, delicious elderberry pie. Knowing the elderberries were picked fresh that very morning only adds to the delicacy. It's like icing on the cake. And everyone knows you always save the best until last. It just makes it more scrumptious.
Picture it if you can. A rambling creek emerging from a wooded area with its winding route splitting a long, wide, meadow before losing itself back among countless trees far away at the other distant end. High banks where muskrats carve their caves in the dirt. It's where low, weedy, shores serve as rabbit and pheasant nests and line the creek's sides. You may not see the creek from a distance but you know it's there; if only from the hundreds and hundreds of elderberry bushes that line it. Those bushes serve as a delicious treat not only for humanity, but for small birds, squirrels, pheasants and other critters from the animal world that depend on its fruit for nourishment.
Early in the morning after the last of our farm chores were done we'd grab a large handled kettle and head for that meadow. None of us kids had to be asked twice. We knew the delicacy that awaited us for the next few days. It was one chore we all enjoyed. It was fun.
Oh, just like all other chores, we also managed to pull some shenanigans to make it interesting. Often we'd rub crushed elderberries in a brother's or sister's face and they'd return with a big bucket of ripe elderberries while they looked as if they took a bath in a tub of elderberry juice. Mom would look at us and just laugh.
“Looks like your foot slipped on all 'em elderberries laying down 'ere on the ground 'neath them bushes and the berries got more of the best of you than you did of them,” she'd mutter, while deep inside chuckling to herself and remembering what it was like when she went elderberry picking as a young lassie for her momma.
And our pay? We didn't need any. Mom's home made elderberry delicacies were our pay.
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