Berry pickin'
When is a Œberry' good time to pick?

Kim Barraclough
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 06/99) - Late summer and early fall bring berries to the wilds just outside of Yellowknife. Some say there are even a number of good berry patches in town.

Veteran berry picker, Mary Hamilton, wouldn't give away all her secrets, but she did have a couple of tips.

According to Hamilton, right now is a good time to go raspberry picking.

"They grow almost anywhere," she said, noting that your best bet is to look in swampy areas or where there is water runoff.

The seedy berries that grow on leafy green canes should be dark red and ready to burst with juice when they are ready to be plucked.

Hamilton even gave away one of her old haunts.

"Out where the dump is, there used to be a really good patch."

Hamilton said August is a good time to start looking for blueberries. Look in marshy spots for the sweet-tasting blueberry.

She said ripe blueberries are deep blue with a light blueish film on them. They grow close to the ground.

Bears are just as interested in the berries as humans, Hamilton warned. To avoid any trouble, she suggested to, "Take a lot of people with you or a dog and make a lot of noise."

Hamilton said in few weeks, more and more berries will start to ripen up and gems such as: gooseberries, Saskatoon berries, black currants, cranberries, high-bush cranberries, rosehips and even a few strawberries will start to appear.

Hamilton said sometimes the season comes a bit earlier and sometimes a bit later.

"It depends on where you look, you have to know where to look."

In recent years, Hamilton admits she has not been out to pick berries quite as often as when she was younger.

"You just don't do the things you used to," said Hamilton.

That doesn't make her any less of a seasoned picker though. She recalls picking berries at about age five.

"I just like to get out in the woods. It's so peaceful picking berries."