Well – I longed for it, I complained bitterly about waiting for it, and now I’ve got it! The dog days of summer are here – temperatures broaching 30 C (that’s almost 90 for our American friends), daily lightning storms, threats of tornadoes and, of course, the ubiquitous mosquito. Clouds of the pesky little buggers invade our house daily – brought inside on the coats of our unruly pack of dogs who insist on going out when they’re in, and in when they’re out.
Mosquitoes bring out the worst in me. Normally, I’m a pacifist – in fact, I’m the kind of person who rescues bugs from the house (unless they’re bees or wasps, then I holler until my husband comes to rescue them), I swerve on the road to miss frogs and ground squirrels – I even retrieve worms from the sidewalks on rainy days. But I’ll admit it – these voracious little devils make me positively homicidal. Last night as I laid on my bed – too hot to actually pull up the covers, a swarm of mosquitoes feasted on my shins and ankles, leaving me with more than 30 angry welts. I murdered eight of them before passing out from the blood loss. Today I have murdered nearly fifty of them – they’re in the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room… I opened the fridge to get some juice this morning and one flew out of there into my face! I murdered it and I enjoyed doing it! I don’t know if I hate them more for biting me and raising big welts all over me, or because of what they’ve reduced me to – a vengeful, homicidal maniac.
So here we are at the height of the summer – and I can’t step outside without attracting hordes of the pesky vampires. But I want to go outside, I need to go outside. You see – it’s cherry/berry season. The raspberry bushes are drooping with luscious treats and the Nanking cherry trees are positively groaning with fruit. It’s one of the best cherry/berry years ever. Normally I might get a couple of cups of Nanking cherries – so far this year I’ve picked about 30 cups and I’m not even half done. I gave up though – the cherry tree is suddenly infested with wasps for some reason. (I hollered for my husband to come pick them for me, but he pretended not to hear me.) I moved on to the raspberry bushes, but they’re thick with weeds and between the mosquitoes and the stinging nettles, I’ve now got an itchy rash on my shins and ankles – between about a hundred stinging bites.
So I got about a half a cup of raspberries and about a bushel of Nanking cherries. Ate the raspberries – but what to do with the Nanking cherries? They’re really tiny – it would take a lifetime to pit them all for jam or tarts. I’ve tried jelly – found a wonderful recipe at this site and loved it – but I still have jelly left from last year… how much jelly does a person really need?
Should I try making wine? I’m a bit hesitant to do that – I made Saskatoon Berry wine a few years ago and it turned out like sherry – which is great if you like sherry – but I hate sherry. I also made apricot wine – but it tastes like paint thinner – which is fine if you need paint thinner – but how much paint thinner does a person really need? Making country wine (home-made wine from fruit) is a huge job – should I waste all these cherries on it only to end up with another 20 bottles of sherry (or worse yet, more paint thinner?)
What would you do with a bushel of Nanking cherries?