Editor’s note: This post is written by our youngest writer, Frederick (11), who describes his experiences with cooking and foraging around our home in California’s Sequoia National Forest.
This summer my mom, my grandma Bea, my little brother Alastair, and I picked wild currants. Wild berries aren’t always safe to eat and that reminded me of this book that’s called “The Hatchet.” In the story, the boy was starved and had to find something to eat. He found berries and ate them before he thought about if they were poisonous or not. He got lucky and they weren’t poisonous but they could have been. We already knew that wild currants weren’t poisonous. That’s why we were picking them that day.
On the way to the currants, Bea told me a long interesting story that she wasn’t able to finish. When we stopped there we got out and looked at the currant bushes. There were gooseberry plants there too. The gooseberry plants don’t have many thorns — they grow their thorns on the berry instead of the plant. They are very weird-looking berries. The currants were very small round berries. The very tiny ones were green. The unripe currants were yellow. The orange currants were partly ripe and sour. The ripe currants were red and sweet. The very ripe plump currants were dark red and sweeter.
Mama gave us containers that already had a few currants in them that she picked for us. My little brother Alastair ate as many as he picked so he never got a lot of berries. I picked as many berries as mama did. I kept picking berries until I got to this spot where the berries were too high to reach. Then I went over to where my grandma was and her bushes still had berries on them that I could reach. While I was there my grandma finished the story she had started in the car. Soon all of her berries were gone too so we walked a little bit and found more currants. We talked about how terrible it would be to spill the berries. They are so tiny that it would be hard to see them all if they were covered by dirt.
A few minutes later I was carrying a full container of berries back to the car and I saw a spider on its web. The web was attached to the container. I kept blowing on the spider so it would fall off but it was making its web so when I blew it, it was still making more web and didn’t fall. I tried again and it just went further down the container. I tried a third time and it didn’t work at all. The spider kept climbing up its web and into the container. It was about to go onto my hand and I had to set the container down. I set the container down too hard and it spilled. My mom says I dropped the container but I say that I set it down too hard. Then mama got grumpy. She got grumpy because there were tiny berries hidden in the dirt. Mama picked up the berries on the top that weren’t that dirty and she made me pick up all of the berries in the dirt and put it into a separate container.
By then Alastair was in the car showing he was ready to leave and so I decided to sit in the car to show that I was ready to leave too. When we were leaving, mama gave Alastair and me each a stem of a currant bush that had currant leaves and currant berries on it so that if we were lost in the woods we would know what a currant looks like.
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My grandmother had a couple currant bushes in the corner of her garden. But they definitely weren’t tall; I remember they spread out – sprawling!