Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hunting and gathering

The season of harvest may well be autumn, but June is definitely a season of plenty in its own way. While the garden bears a few early snap peas, plenty of well established herbs, and kale I can put daily into my ration of eggs, the wild outdoors has its own delights, even beyond the strawberry plants we have hidden around the yard.

I grew up with a cherry tree across the street, and June, then, was the season for gathering cherries and making pie. Near Ithaca, one of the state parks on the lake featured several mature cherry trees, and while Brian climbed for their fruit, I would stand on picnic tables and gather on tiptoe. Those cherries, too, went home for pie. Perhaps Brian has kept his eye on this tree earlier, but this week when I arrived at soccer practice, ten girls and Brian were off on the edge of the field - not looking for a wayward ball, as I first thought - but cherry picking. Some of the girls weren't too sure about it, but they believed in their coach, and were soon talking (tempting?) their younger siblings into trying the fruit, too.

This week, too, Hazel got her own idea of gathering. She recently attended a birthday party at which the party favor/craft was making little aquaria, with plastic toy inhabitants but real water, in small containers. Since then, she had the idea that she wanted a real fish swimming in it. Years ago, Brian and I kept fish - hand-me downs, I think, from some departing student - and still have the aquarium, though the residents departed (some to friends, some to the earth). I'm not actually keen to keep fish again, but I also figured that letting the girls try to catch them with nets would be relatively harmless, and might give us a resident fish for a week or so, when we could re-release it.

Don't hold your breath - we haven't caught anything, yet. Recent rains have made the streams so fast that the water bends our nets even in the deeper, more slow-moving sections. The pond, meanwhile, has plenty of fish too smart to be caught 3 feet from the bank, and even Emily seems too squeamish about the muddy bottom to go further. But the process itself, in my view, is the goal - ideally to wear them out on the idea of having fish, but keep the nets as a gentle way to hold whatever critters we might find.

And, starting now, we've entered the season when I know we will find plenty.

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