By Alan Viau
When I was growing up, I didn’t know much about fresh fruit. My only experience was picking blueberries in the forest. That changed when I met and married my Sweetheart. She introduced me to all sorts of fruit I had never heard of, including mango and papaya. Then she had me pick fresh fruit right off the tree!
It was during my doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo. We were walking on the campus when she saw a cluster of crab-apple trees. After checking with appropriate authorities from the university, we picked the ripe crab apples so that she could make some jam. This was my first time picking fruit from trees and it was exhilarating. It felt like an Adam-and-Eve connection to nature.
Later with our kids, we would take trips to St. Ignatius College, a Jesuit seminary in Guelph, to pick apples in its orchard. Trips to the Niagara region were also fun. Our children would accompany us for tastings at the wineries. Although they could not taste the wine, we had them look at it and smell it. After, we would wander the vineyards so that they could taste the numerous varieties of grapes.
Sometimes, you don’t need to go far to pick fruit from trees. I described in the summer issue of Ottawa Family Living why I like living in the neighborhood I call home. Recently, Sweetheart and I expanded our usual walk to include the adjacent hydro corridor. We were pleasantly surprised to find many fruit-bearing trees and shrubs!
In the short span of the corridor, we discovered blackberries, choke cherries, crab apples and apples.
Ripening apples under the hydro tower. Photo by Alan Viau
Blackberries. Photo by Alan Viau
Choke Cherries. Photo by Alan Viau
Crab apple. Photo by Alan Viau
Since then, we’ve picked a bucket of choke cherries to make jam and we’ve munched on the blackberries.
Picking fruit is a great way to teach children two things. The first is the connection to nature. This is what fruit looks like in the wild – without pesticides and fertilizers. Second, picking fruit educates them about where their food comes from and what it takes to make something from it.
It is a life pleasure to pick fruit. Somehow it just tastes better when you harvest it. So if you’ll excuse me, the crabapples are ready …