Nature Notes: Nature’s Delicious Bounty — Berry picking in MN

Crosslake, MN in 2018 will be fondly remembered for the amazing berries, as we are experiencing a true bumper crop of berries this year.  It started with little red strawberries, whatever they lacked in size they more than made up for in flavor.  These little delicacies grow right near the ground and are a challenge to find and pick, but they are sure worth the effort. 

Blueberries were next to ripen and even though we don’t have an abundance of them in our area, the numbers of plump berries per plant were the best I can ever recalling finding.  Seemed like you could get a solid handful from just one or two plants. 

However, it was the wild raspberries that were the stars of the show this year.  I have enjoyed collecting wild raspberries since I was just a kid, and this year’s crop was one that will not be forgotten.  Not only were the sheer numbers of berries greater than I can ever recall, but their size was truly exceptional.  The typical wild raspberry is a fraction of the size of those sold in grocery stores, but not this year.  They are huge.  I’m guessing the combination of higher temperatures and the significant rainfalls during the growing period was a perfect storm in creating an amazing crop of wild raspberries.

The past couple of weeks our Wednesday Nature walk with Maggie has turned into a raspberry feast.  It is so much fun to watch kids who have never picked wild berries before really getting into it.  They can hardly contain their excitement as they find a particularly large berry or find a plant that is just loaded with these red beauties.  I hope that these memories will stay with them and encourage them to go out and search for more the next time they are out in the woods.

Just this morning, I was out with my bucket and gathered enough for dinner tonight, waffles and raspberries, plus I had enough to freeze a couple of quarts.  These will be thoroughly enjoyed this winter when the snow and cold are the norm and these warm summer days seem so distant.  As an added bonus this morning, I found one of my all-time favorite insects, Phasmatodea…or a Walking Stick!  He/she was checking out my berries from atop my ice cream bucket.  I placed it back on a raspberry bush, took a quick picture and then it was back to picking berries.  What a great way to start the day!