I had intended to post at least twice during Elderberry Fest, our newly-adopted autumn celebration. However, late Friday afternoon we discovered our internet service was down. Mike spent 15 minutes with a Wild Blue tech who ascertained what we already knew – that the problem was the dish. The Wild Blue tech for our region doesn’t work Friday through the weekend. So – we were out of luck for any online activity during the weekend. I actually took this well, considering that I am affirmed through my computer, but having Hallie and Nick with us – and lots to do -- made it easier. I had hoped that Hallie could help me customize my laptop, but without the internet, we couldn’t do that. I also missed consulting the worldwide web for offbeat elderberry recipes. Hallie was able to access the internet on her iPhone, so we weren’t totally helpless.
Nick and Hallie arrived at 10:30 Thursday night, telling tales of the whitetail deer they had seen down on the river. Nellie had gone to bed but she arose to greet them and claim her “pig ear.” Hallie always brings treats for Nellie – one for arrival and one for each morning of the visit. It’s fun to watch Hallie and Nellie interact over the dog treats. And the time that Hallie was short a treat, Nellie moped all day.
Friday after breakfast we headed for the elderberry bushes behind the house. As we picked the clumps of berries, Mike zipped them off the stems. Even so, there was more to be done, and Nick finished up at the house while Hallie and I processed the first batch of juice.
Friday afternoon we hiked down the lane to Mike’s tree stand. Nick helped him take it down and move it to another tree while I showed Hallie the elderberry bush at the neighbors’.
Then Hallie and I explored the gully where an old car sits abandoned and rusting away. Hallie, more sure-footed than her mother, climbed to the other side for a better look and took a couple of pictures of the old coupe. She was able to remove a manufacturer’s metal identification tag and then used that information to research the model online. She found it was a 1939 Chevrolet “Business Coupe,” a nice-looking little car.
Having determined this much, I decided to call my half-brother, Chuck, in Utah. Back in the ‘50s, Chuck drove a similar coupe back and forth from Orofino to the University of Idaho in Moscow. No, he said, his car had been a 1936 Pontiac coupe and he parted it out at a junk yard. He said he didn’t know where the car in the gully came from, didn’t know if my dad knew it was there. Further research showed that the 1936 Pontiac was very like the 1939 Chevrolet – even the same color. Seems like a big coincidence, but as all researchers learn, coincidences do happen.
I made a batch of elderberry jelly. Hallie and Nick made a syrup of honey and elderberry juice and also experimented with some whole-berry elixirs. Those have to age for five or six weeks before being taste tested, the idea being to use the liquid a teaspoon at a time for its health-giving properties. The elderberry and honey syrup was tested on waffles both Saturday and Sunday and one bottle was pretty much gone.
Saturday afternoon, friends arrived for a visit with their new German shorthair pup, Mack. Here’s a picture of Mack taking a nap on Nellie’s pillow after playing with Nick and Hallie for an hour. Nellie found him a bit of a pest and dubbed him “Little Twerp.” She was glad to see him leave.
Sunday was the final opportunity for picking and cooking. We had used most of our berries, and Nick wanted to do more whole-berry experiments, so I suggested we visit some elderberry bushes I had seen on the road right-of-way. We practically had to drag Nick away from the bush on Miller Road. The berries were so large and juicy – almost like blueberries. He spent hours de-stemming the berries. In the end they took four gallon bags of elderberries back to Seattle for the freezer.
Monday morning we had just enough time for me to help Hallie crochet a granny square motif, the prototype for Nick’s Christmas stocking. She’ll have to tighten her gauge but she shouldn’t have any trouble with the pattern.
Nick and Hallie left about 10:00 and shortly thereafter the tech from Wild Blue arrived. The box on the dish had failed, even though it was just replaced four months ago. Well, it’s fixed now.
It was fun while it lasted and we were sorry to say good-bye, but you know how it is – there’s more fun coming up. KW