September 28, 2010

Making Memories

We were able to watch the cranberries being harvested last weekend just as I had hoped. We're always heading back home for one celebration or another, but we haven't really been back for more than a day since both sets of parents sold the "big houses" several years ago. We decided it was time to do something about that and headed south to visit family and take in the familiar sights of home.

My father-in-law asked our girls if they would like to see how cranberries were picked when he was a boy, so we headed out to a local bog so he could show us how it was done. Cranberries are either wet-picked (as seen above) or dry-picked. They have motorized machines (similar to a standing lawn mower), that travel over the bogs and pick up the berries today, but years ago they used scoops and literally picked the bogs by hand. His scoop that you see above dates back to the 1940's and he uses it every season to pick 5-6 bushels. It's back-breaking work, but to my 80 year old father-in-law, it's just another day. My girls got in on the action and picked right along with him, and as I was taking pictures, I realized I couldn't focus very well. I was watching a piece of our family history unfold right before my eyes and I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was a perfect day.

After the cranberries are picked, they're placed in burlap sacks so it's easier to carry. The sacks are then dropped onto a screen to help release the vine from the berry.

The screen is placed over large crates that will either be loaded onto trucks and hauled or stacked together to be air-lifted by helicopter.

At this particular bog, they had an antique sorting machine that was made in the previous century. The cranberries are loaded and the remaining vines are removed. Then the cranberries are bounced onto the conveyer for the picker to toss any un-ripened berries into the middle compartment. It was kind of like that scene from I Love Lucy and the chocolates, but we managed to do a decent job.

Here is one of the bushels my father-in-law picked. He had this in his back yard when we arrived and we all bit into the tart, red berries as if they were candy. I'm told he'll give the majority of the berries away to the church folk (he's a retired minister) and friends, and if my mother-in-law isn't quick enough, she'll won't be able to use them to bake her famous cranberry bars.

I'll use mine for decoration and place them in bowls around my home as a sweet reminder of the time we shared together.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story and photos.

The Hill Hang-Out said...

Beautiful post and beautiful pictures! I know you will always treasure these memories. Lovely!

Kimberly Merritt said...

Thank you. I only wish I starting writing down memories sooner. But now I have pictures too. :o)

BonjourRomance said...

Bonjour Kimberly,
What a fantastic day for you and your family. Memories like these will last a lifetime.
Thank you for sharing them,
Mimi

Sandy Merritt said...

Kim, Reading your words and seeing the pictures, my heart became so full! How beautiful. I don't think it's possible to have too many memories such as these and I am committed to making as many possible. I expect you to be in many of them!
Love,
Sandy