and a practically-perfect-in-every-way day!
I have prosed on and on so many times about how autumn is my favorite time of year. I actually think now that I love whatever season I am currently experiencing the best...just like my favorite book is always the one I'm reading right now. (Summer excepted. I've NEVER said summer is my favorite season...au contraire!)
Two weeks ago almost to the day, my beloved hubby and I decided we were going to motor up on Kanarra Mountain to keep alive a tradition that we had neglected for a few years: gathering wild elderberries to make out-of-this-world-delicious jam.
We climbed in the Santa Fe, leaving Jack, our fabulous jack-of-all-trades(!), busily painting the exterior wood trim on our house. No work for us!(Bye, Jack! Have fun slaving away.)
After a brief but beautiful detour to New Harmony to get apples for another tradition--apple salad on Conference weekend--we headed into Kanarraville to find our mountain road. (The foregoing photo was taken from the Pace's back yard...the place where we bought our apples...can you imagine having this as your view???)
Soon we were in Kanarraville--(Obviously the home of some very STRONG females!)
The weather was so warm and beautiful that day. DarDar and I were having a blast just gawking about at local sights.
The owner of this old truck must love it very much to make it a permanent part of his home...and yes, the old service station is now a home!
Then it was away, away...up the mountain we chugged...stopping every now and again for a photo op. (Isn't my hubby absolutely ADORABLE???)
Note the dirt already stacking up on the back window. You ain't seen NUTHIN' yet!!!
As we climbed higher and higher...the scenery became even more breathtaking.
We found autumn up on that mountain!
and our favorite elderberry picking site!
Darwin and I were ready to reap...but there weren't many berries to reap! We felt like we were gleaners...coming after the main crop had already been harvested. But HEY...we were determined. Both of us got to work...me with a camera dangling from my wrist.
We occasionally took a break...the pause that refreshes!!! (I took this pic. Not bad, eh? I had to have some proof that I was really there!)
We picked a few berries here, a few there, working HARD for the money...but we were having so much fun. The scenery was outstanding, the company was great, and it was marvelous to be out in the hills. It's funny how hard you're willing to work when it's your own idea. We climbed through the brambles, scrambling up banks of rock, and really quite wore ourselves out trying to find a few handfuls of berries. I'll bet we looked quite hilarious...these old folks puffing along the mountain roads. When we had quite stripped one bush, we'd immediately look for another. We drove slowly along, basking in the beauty of the day.
I don't even know how long we picked. One problem we had was that we brought no food of any sort to munch on. We had the box of apples from New Harmony, but after one or two apples...I craved something more substantial. I do not recommend trying to eat raw elderberries, P.S.
As the day wore on, we noticed a storm moving in.
We weren't quite willing to quit picking, though. It had become a mania to scavenge all the berries we could.
We even stopped at one fruitful spot and picked a whole box of chokecherries. Nature was very generous in the chokecherry department. Obviously, no one wants to mess with them because they were abundant. We filled a whole box at just one spot. I ate a raw one to prove to Darwin that they weren't some strange, poisonous fruit I was asking him to pick. "If I don't die, you'll know they're okay. If not...I guess you were right!" As I'm writing this two weeks later and the aforementioned chokecherries are all jellied up in little jars, you know they were the real deal.
(This pic shows the chokecherries ready to juice. Aren't they pretty? I found out that they were a staple food for many Native American tribes. Yeah, they pucker your smucker when they're raw...but they do make good jelly!)
We finally gave up our labors when the sky was getting so dark we couldn't see to pick. Our energy faded at about the same time as the light. We no sooner got in the car when the first big, fat raindrops started to splat on the windshield. Talk about superb timing! Autumn had a very subdued glow with no sunlight to brighten up the colors--but it was still beautiful.
As we drove along, the wind picked up. Leaves began to swirl down from the quaking aspen trees and gather along the roadside...like a cool river of gold.
Quite suddenly, a hailstorm hit. It got so bad that Darwin was afraid we'd have a dented car.
We kept motoring on over the mountain, just relishing the vagaries of Mother Nature. What a fabulous show she put on for us. We were having a blast. The hail storm finally stopped before we began to ascend the mountain into Cedar City...but the skies were still dark and threatening.
The cows didn't seem to mind.
By the time we actually made it into Cedar City, it was raining in earnest. AND...we were both ready to start eating our own fingers we were so starved. Taco Time loomed out of the rain, and we pulled in. I have to say...the Cedar City Taco Time is a clean little fast-food emporium. AND the food was quite delicious. As my sainted mother used to say, "HUNGER MAKES THE BEST SAUCE!" (That quote was for you, Janna Lynn!)
The day had been, to quote Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way!"
The jam went from this--
to the beautiful filled jar at the first of this saga--and ultimately, to THIS:
We all went NUTS over the flavor of the jam/jelly. We used sugar-free pectin, so we didn't add nearly as much sugar as called for. It was DELICIOUS!!! (And will be too soon gone!)
But what a day!