Ripe for the Pickin’

25 Jun

Last Saturday, Matt and I did what we’ve been talking about doing for weeks now. Okay, I lie…Matt and I did what I’VE been talking about, thinking about and dreaming about for weeks now…going berry picking!

Some of my absolute favorite childhood memories are the times my mom and I – and occasionally my brother Dave – spent on a farm (particularly Becker Farms, of course!), picking apples, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches – you name it. I remember how excited I used to be the morning of a “U-Pick” session – putting on my favorite pair of overalls, grabbing our cartons and bags and taking that long country drive to the farmlands. I remember scoring the trees and bushes for the best fruit – and eating more than half of what ended up in the basket. My mom used to always tell me, “Anne Marie, they are going to have to weigh you when we go in and weigh you on our way out!” The day usually always ended with dirty jeans, an “I-ate-too-much” belly ache and enough fruit to last us for months. Looking back, these were such special moments for me and my mom. We shared so many laughs (and so many apples) during those sunny afternoons. And after all, since she taught me everything I know about food, cooking and freezer jam, being with her in a maze of fruit trees are the times I cherish the most.

And they are also the times I miss the most. Being away from home is a lot harder than I ever imagined it to be! Especially when you’re stressed about work and  a wedding! While Matt and I have been doing our best to manage the time that keeps flying by, I knew we needed a break from our so-called “norm.” I especially needed to get back to something I have been neglecting for awhile – my old farmer soul!

And so after researching farms in the DC/VA/MD region, I came across a gem called Larriland Farms. While no farm is probably ever going to live up to my beloved Becker’s, I was willing to drive an hour to see what Larriland Farms had in store. (Yes, Matt drove me an hour to pick fruit. I love him.) The drive up there was gorgeous –  we put the windows down, the sunroof back and the radio high. I could feel myself getting closer to that little girl in the passenger seat of her Mom’s van by the minute.

On the way to the farm, we came across another, unexpected gem. Just as Matt was saying “I’m going to need to eat soon,” we whizzed passed this little place called “Sister Sandwiches and Such.” We both did a quick look, and without even a word Matt did a U-Turn and pulled into the parking lot. “I think we’ve found our spot!!!”

It was literally the cutest thing in the world. It is a country house-turned restaurant, with all the homemade fixings. There were shelves of adorable knick-knacks, hand-stiched kitchen towels and colorfully painted salt & pepper shakers, which Matt had to literally pry out of my hands. The menu was painted on the wall, and while the line was long, the ambiance was comfy.

Of course I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I picked the soup & salad combo: 1/2 of the “Vinny Salad,” which was romaine lettuce w/ granny smith apples, muenster cheese and candied pecans (basically my dream team) and white vegetable chicken chili. (Another favorite.) Matt chose “The Smasher” sandwich – roasted turkey on multigrain bread, loaded with barbecue chips and sauce. We took a seat front he front porch and took in the beauty of the countryside and food made with total love.

After we fueled up (the salad and soup were DELISH…and so was Matt’s sandwich, as I obviously took a few bites!) we were back on the road to do some pickin’.

We finally arrived at Larriland about twenty minutes later – and wow, this place was huge! There were rows and rows of farm as far as you could see. I literally almost jumped out of the car while it was moving, I was so darn excited.

There were no more strawberries available to pick, so we decided we would pick a few black raspberries, then move to blueberries and cherries, which were located across the street. The black raspberries were slim pickins…we really had to search for ripe ones! Just as I was about to say that the farm shouldn’t have this patch open yet a lady walked by with a HUGE carton full of the ripest black raspberries! Matt and I both looked at each other and started laughing – she must have taken every last one! We ended up only buying about a cup of black raspberries before moving on to the blueberries.

But my oh my, the blueberries made up for the lack of black raspberries! There were bunches of ripe blueberries on every bush, and I am pretty sure I was running laps up and down the rows, loading up our bag. There was the cutest little kid in the field, who must have been eating too many blueberries bc his grandma kept saying “You better watch out for the blueberry police!” When he saw me on the other side of the blueberry bush, he said, “I think I see the blueberry police!” We all laughed really hard, and I told him that I was worried he was the blueberry police. We decided we would both eat the blueberries and not tell anyone. 🙂

After overflowing our 4-pound bag, the clouds started looming over us and we decided we need to get over to the cherry field, ASAP! But first, we had to stop in the barn to check out all of the goodies they had inside.

Ah, I could have stayed in that barn forever! They had all kinds of spices, jams, sauces and canning supplies. THey also had root beer in glass bottles, which Matt was all about! After Matt dragged me away from the stacks of mason jars, we grabbed a root beer and a big bag of trail mix and headed to the cherry trees.

As much as I love blueberries, I LOVE cherries. They are one of Matt’s favorite fruits too, so we were both prepared to climb trees to get the best ones. Luck for us, they had ladders!

Picking cherries brought back even more memories of my childhood, as I remember actually climbing the trees with my brother and my mom saying, “You two are like monkeys! The farmers are going to come and pull you outta there!” As we went from tree to tree (Matt was an excellent wingman, pulling the best branches down to my level), our bag got heavier, as well as our stomachs! I didn’t care if these cherries were $5 a pound, the experience alone was worth my entire paycheck.

I really could have stayed there forever, becoming a professional fruit-picker and feel 100 percent satisfied with my life!

I remember as we left Larriland and headed back home, Matt laughed because I could not stop looking at the backseat floor, where the fruits of our labor sat perfectly in a cardboard crate. We cranked up the country music, rolled the windows back down and grabbed a handful of cherries, since we still were not sick of eating them! I could not think of a more way to spend the day.

As I reflect on that day, I realize that it was right there, smack dab in the middle of a cherry tree that I found that little girl I had become too busy to be. And although I can’t go to Larriland every weekend (well, I guess I can but I don’t know if Matt would be too thrilled) I know that it is imperative that throughout the wedding details, work events and never-ending to-do lists, I get back to my own roots to make my life as fruitful and innocent as it used to be.

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One Response to “Ripe for the Pickin’”

  1. Denny Wilkins June 25, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    A wonderful post. As someone from a rural county, I, too, had such experiences.

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