Thursday, November 11, 2010

Caught in a Sock

It's late June. The sun soaks into my shoulders with an almost physical pressure. The air is hot and still, even the sky a little faded with the brightness. An intermittent gentle breeze stirs the leaves. The hum of crickets blends with the hum of high tension power lines, and little puffs of dust come up under my sneakers as I climb out of the car.

We each take a plastic bucket from the pile, at once worrying that we haven't brought enough and laughing at our own ambition. Even from here we can see the clusters of blueberries on the higher bushes. Across the road, a thick tangle of blackberry bramble shows a mixture of ripe and unripe berries, clustered on branches surrounded with wicked thorns.

My mother heads for the nearest bush and starts picking right away. My sister wanders off with her own bucket, and I climb the rough track, looking for the thickest clumps of berries. I pause under a pine tree near the tumbledown stone wall, enjoying the shade and the smell of sun-warmed pine needles. But berries don't grow in the shade, so I pick a wild wintergreen leaf and move on, crumpling it between my fingers to smell the fresh scent, then chewing it a couple of times for the flavor, and spitting it out before the underlying bitterness overwhelms the mint.

Back in the sun, I find a thick clump of blueberries and start picking- setting the bucket between my feet and crouching down to harvest berries from the ground-hugging bushes. Even picking as fast as I can, the two-quart bucket fills agonizingly slowly. I take it back to the car and trade it for an empty, and go after blackberries. Others have tramped paths into the heart of the thicket, and I follow in their steps, carefully moving branches aside. This is why I wore long pants despite the heat. The vicious thorns still draw blood as I pass, but the scratches are minor. Down by the little trickle of water that flows through the heart of the brambles, the berries are biggest, as large as the end of my finger. The bucket fills quickly.

I return to picking blueberries- by now feeling overheated and tired. Before I've quite filled the bucket, my sister is sitting down in the shade looking flushed, and my mother is putting covers on buckets. She's picked more than my sister and I put together. I finally sample a few blueberries and wish I could have picked faster. The sweet fresh taste fills my mouth. Once home, we'll make muffins and cake and pie, and put berries in the freezer, so in the middle of the snowy Maine winter, we can enjoy pancakes filled with summer.

Maybe it's because they also live in Maine, but when I took a close look at this skein of Frolicking Feet Sock Yarn from Done Roving Farm, I knew they'd captured a cherished little piece of my childhood in yarn.
close-up of yarn

The colorway is Wildberries, and it's extremely apt- they've got the dusty blue of low-bush blueberries, the darker navy of the high-bush variety, the deep purply-black of blackberries and the deep red of the not-quite ripe, glowing together in a perfectly luscious sock yarn. (None of the photos really do it justice.) I know I'm pretty easygoing in the yarn department, but this stuff is just beautiful--lovely brilliant colors and incredibly soft to the touch. And it comes in 480 yard skeins, which is marvelous when you consider how many large-footed people I knit for.

Except that I'm going to have to find a nearby shop that carries it and get more before I'll be able to use it to knit socks for anyone else. Because these socks are mine. In the middle of winter, I'll wear my berry-picking socks, feel the sun on my shoulders, smell wintergreen and pine needles, and know that summer is coming.
Berry-picking socks
The sock pattern is Stansfield #10 from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.


  1. I can't imagine a better reason to love a yarn!

  2. What a lovely memory. Isn't it funny what will trigger memories.