Saturday, June 10, 2006


I drove out to Larriland Farm in rural Maryland to pick strawberries for jam this morning. Nessa found this place 3 years ago, and we went again last year. Today I got a tray full of good fruit - it is the peak of the season right now. I could have also picked my own spinach, but... forgot.

Live the Migrant Field Worker Experience!

It was a very nice day to be out of the city. Cool breezes, not too much sun, pleasant weather all around. Any farm country reminds me of home, but this part of Maryland disorients me a little. If I see fields, and barns, and herds of cattle, I expect to see mountains close by as well. At home in the Champlain Valley, you're either heading straight for the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, or they're on either side. But there are always mountains visible from the farms. Not so in rural Montgomery County, and I find it weird.

Lovely farm country

It was lunch time after I picked the berries, so I stopped in a very small town called Etchison. It was little more than an intersection, and consisted of a few houses, a motorcycle shop, and a country store that sold cheap fountain drinks and a pretty good pulled pork sandwich. I ate out on the porch, and watched tractors drive by.

Downtown Etchison, Maryland Posted by Picasa

Once I got home, I found out I don't have any mason jars left for canning jam. So began my big adventure for the day.

I left my place in Del Ray, and drove to the same Giant supermarket (1) where I bought jars the last two years. No dice. So I went to another Giant (2), thinking maybe the first was just out of stock. Strike. Maybe a more upscale joint will have something - I'll try Balducci's (3). Plenty of wine, fish, and cheese, but no mason jars. Ah, maybe a store for chefs will have the supplies I need - on to Williams Sonoma (4)! Apparently, canning is for the hoi polloi. Luckily, one of the other customers there overheard my questions and said "Safeway and Food Shopper's Warehouse has them." Okay, let's go to the Food Jobber or whatever (5). Huge place, row after row, piled high to the warehouse ceilings with not-mason jar products. Okay, let's try Safeway (6). Another Giant (7)? Another Safeway (8)? Damn damn damn you all to hell. You have pushed me to a state of desperation that drives me to a place I would normally never go - The Mart. Luckily, among their flame-retardant pajamas and half-price lawn mowers, Wal-Mart does have mason jars, and pectin to boot. That's just over 26 miles of driving, plus the return. Observant readers will note that the path above crosses and runs over the same roads and routes multiple times in a few places. There is an excellent reason for this: I'm not terribly bright.

Now I'm going to go mash the hell out of those berries.

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