As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder

Berry Picking

There’s your berries of course. And that was special. It was a treat. The dried berries. It’s like those roll-ups you see today. And there was no sugar added in those. They would just squish the berries and pour them on flat beds. They laid flat beds out, and just dried it in the sun. My grandmother did that to a lot of the berries: wild blackberries, salal berries, huckleberries, salmonberries. You used to get a lot of black caps. And they’re so tasty! Like, they ripen up the same time as the wild blackberries. And that is really nice. Now we have these different blackberries that’s all over our yard! I call them tame, but they grow all over the place around here now. We never used to have those. It got imported here from somewhere. It’s good. You can extract the juice from that and make jelly – that’s pretty much what I do with it.

I remember my grandfather, he lived next door when we first built our house here, and that’s, like, sixty years ago. And he actually planted the tame ones here. Someone had planted them over by the river – across the village here. And he went and got some and he planted a whole row and I thought, “Oh my goodness!” Now we’ve got it going, you know, I’m forever cutting it back, cutting it back every year. Now we find when there’s been a fire somewhere, and the following year that’s where you go and that’s where the wild blackberries are growing. They really like that site that’s been burnt out.

Sometimes we lived over in Harwood Island, ’cause there’s a lot of salal there. And we’d go there and just pick a whole lot in the fall time. That’s a fall kind of berries – when they get ripe is around September, early September. And wild blackberries. Salmonberries was always plentiful over on Harwood. Yeah.

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