Monday, August 05, 2013

Something New

We had a few bursts of fantastic weather last week and took full advantage, starting with our visit to Shelburne Farms for Green Mountain Draft Horse Field Day on Saturday.  What a beautiful day that was.  Not only was there sun and yet a more tolerable heat than we have become used to this time of year, but there was so much to see and do.  From learning about how they make their cheese, not to mention sampling some, to riding in a tractor-drawn wagon, meeting all the animals, watching as horse drawn carriages sauntered by, and even celebrating their Sicilian donkey's 30th birthday, we enjoyed a wonderfully memorable day.  My favorite part was our short hike from the farm barn up to the top of Lone Tree Hill where we saw sensational views--of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks to the east and of the Green Mountains to the west.  I found myself stopping just before we began the trek downward, lifting my eyes to the sky and consciously soaking in every last drop of that moment.  Our God is AMAZING.

After a couple of busy days at home I took the boys hiking on some trails we had not personally explored before.  We climbed up the steep slopes of one hill on Tuesday and then another on Wednesday.  Thomas said his favorite part of hiking was the exploring part; not knowing where a trail would lead us until we tried it.  Thankfully I tend to have a pretty good sense of direction, so we didn't get lost.

Logan did very well, considering how steep he had to climb.  As out of shape as I've become, it works out, having a little one to set the pace.  Between his short legs and my extra pounds, we take things slower than I used to, but I have to say, since moving here walking and hiking have become somewhat routine, and I'm able to take on more.  Honestly I'm a little proud of us both!  And of Thomas and Gabriel too; they never complained about having to wait a minute here or there, while Logan caught up, though most of the time he kept up just fine.


On Thursday we ventured into the mountains to pick blueberries.  It had been ages since I'd done so, and the boys never had.  Growing up, we used to drive up a long dirt road to a place with many, many mature bushes and an old wooden farm stand with a sign on it, stating the price.  We signed a piece of paper on a clipboard with the amount that we had picked and slipped some money into the box.  I always loved to go, though I remember it getting pretty buggy.  I felt like I could get lost amongst the bushes.  They were so tall and bushy, and they seemed to go on forever.  Maybe I was just small.

The place we discovered out here was fantastic.  The bushes were young but plentiful in berries, and while there were clouds we welcomed a bit of sun and a heavenly light breeze.  It made for easy, wonderful, joyful picking, and the site was so beautiful that I have to admit I probably spent more time playing with the camera than picking berries.  Thomas took care of that though.  He was on a mission, and he picked well.  Gabe and Logan helped too, of course.  We took home 5.35 pounds of plump, ripe, tasty berries.


For years I'd wanted to try my hand at making and canning jam, and since I ran out of time with the strawberries (we picked right before our vacation and ended up having to freeze most of them), I thought, "Why not blueberry jam?"  I had never tasted blueberry jam before, but it sounded pretty great, so after watching a completely unnecessary number of how-to videos online and picking up a few materials at the hardware store, I dove right in.

It was delicious, and miraculously, all of my jars sealed.  Now I'm hooked.  I'm thinking of thawing out those strawberries for a strawberry-blueberry mix, followed by some apple jelly in September, and definitely both strawberry and raspberry jams next summer.

I wonder what we'll discover this week.

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