Cecilia Paul smiles as she shows off the fruits of her labour

Cecilia Paul smiles as she shows off the fruits of her labour

A very good year for berry picking

With a plentiful supply of water, courtesy of multitudes of June rainstorms, the summer of 2013 is yielding a bumper crop of wild berries.

It’s a berry-good year in the Cariboo!

With a plentiful supply of water, courtesy of multitudes of June rainstorms, the summer of 2013 is yielding a bumper crop of many kinds/varieties of wild berries.

Many Cariboo-ites armed with sun hats, sunscreen, mosquito dope, bear bells, perhaps a dog or two and plastic buckets of all sizes are adventuring out along country roadsides to pick berries.

One recent afternoon on Dog Creek Road a group of Esketemc First Nation seniors were scattered out along the road (lakeside – Alkali Lake) industriously picking Saskatoon berries.

A discussion with community van driver Thomas Sampson yielded the information that this group had been picking berries all day long.

It was a perfect day for berry-picking: a little cool and overcast with a nice breeze to blow the mosquitos away and he transported the group to the best berry patches in the area.

The berry-pickers had begun the day in a different area, harvesting soapolallie berries that are used to make hooshum, commonly called Indian Ice Cream.

The juice extracted from these berries, with a little water added is whipped to make a frothy salmon-coloured dessert resembling ice (whipped) cream to which sugar is sometimes added to taste.

By the time the group arrived at Alkali Lake where the Saskatoon berries were in plentiful supply, Dinah Belleau had picked so many Soapallie berries at the previous stop that she had her bucket-space-full.

Not one to stay idle long, she cheerfully helped others pick, or simply picked and snacked on the juicy fruit herself, just enjoying the wonderful summer day out and about in the Cariboo country-side.

Cecilia Paul was all smiles as she held up the fruits of her labours, a large pail of juicy, plump purple Saskatoon berries.

Diminutive Esketemc First Nation elder, Isabel Johnson who is 80-plus years old was also all smiles as she carefully made her way through grass and weeds as tall as she is (about five feet), on her way to access a Saskatoon berry-patch alongside Alkali Lake.

They were a tired but happy group, all sporting big smiles along with sticky, purple stained hands and full berry-buckets – enjoying a day outdoors in the Cariboo.