The Story of Skunk Berries . . .

During my childhood, I was both a city girl and a woodsy girl.  My family lived in St. Paul during the week.  However, every Friday evening (and I mean every one), we packed up the pickup truck and headed about 250 miles north to spend the weekend at the cabin in the middle of the woods, returning to the city Sunday night.

The memories of those weekends still provide many amazing tales to tell (for future posts).  When I think back on some of our adventures in the woods, I realize my parent’s were rather crazy.  However, sometimes the craziness resulted in rather clever inventions.

I was reminded of one of our yearly summer adventures this weekend listening to a local call in radio show about berry picking.  People were calling in memories of berry picking and voting on their favorite berry.  It was not surprising to me that no one called in and voted for Skunk Berries … as an adult, I can go on a walk and point out skunk berries easily .. they are numerous.  Yet, I doubt anyone else knows what a skunk berry even is … Therefore, let me share the story of skunk berries ….

Numerous summer weekends of my childhood were spent in the middle of the woods picking wild berries with my family.  The three main staples were wild raspberries, blueberries and strawberries (each in their season).  Getting to some of the picking areas was a major challenge … dragging 3 small children with buckets, bug spray and usually snacks or a picnic lunch still amazes me today.  These were not drive up and pick sites … most required hiking in the dense woods, with no paths to follow.

After some whining and learning, my brother, sister and I turned out to be excellent berry pickers.  Berry picking was a family treasure hunt and returning to the cabin with buckets of treasure were something we were very proud of .. we were competitive.  We were so inspired to find and pick berry treasures, that even when we were not officially picking berries, we picked things that looked like berries while we were playing outside or taking walks in the woods.

For those of you who know the woods … three little kids that pick berries randomly can be a very dangerous thing.  There are things in the woods you should not pick and definitely not eat.  It is amazing how many berry type things are in the woods and how difficult it is to keep a constant watch on little kids walking in the woods … a problem for my parents.

Around this time, we also had a close encounter with a skunk.  The skunk decided to visit our front door … the dog knew he was there (he was barking) but, my dad did not know until he opened the door.  Let’s just say, the cabin was completely filled with skunk odor … the skunk got us more than once as after his visit at the door, then with the dog, he also shared his scent with us while he crawled under the cabin.  We were all pretty sick and had a very bad opinion of skunks.

skunkberryMy dad put the two situations together and invented skunk berries.  From then on, as we walked through the woods, my dad would point at various plants and say “Skunk Berry” … “ICK” we would all shout back.  What do Skunk Berries look like?  A Skunk Berry is any berry that is not a raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry.

My berry knowledge has grown since my childhood as I can now recognize more types and identify some of the plants before the berries even appear.  However,  if you walk with me in the woods and ask me to identify a berry you have found … if I don’t know what it is, I will still tell you it is a Skunk Berry!  Skunk berries are found everywhere in the woods. An appropriate and effective name, don’t you think?

~ by bearyweather on August 17, 2009.

One Response to “The Story of Skunk Berries . . .”

  1. […] like to know more about berry picking in Minnesota, check out two of my posts from last summer: The Story of Skunk Berries and Hidden food in the […]

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