Summer on a Shoestring


Strawberry Fields Forever!
October 9, 2013, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Cooking in the white house, Recreation

By Cleo Warner

One of the greatest things I’ve found about summer in the Bartlett area has been the berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, service berries; they are all here once the warm weather rolls through. The greatest part is that you can get them for free if you know where to look. So far we have collected blueberries on the side of 302, raspberries from various bushes behind the white house, service berries from second iron, and the smallest strawberries I’ve ever seen from the grass by the dorm back door.  Little did I know that the berry lottery was waiting for us at the very end of strawberry season.

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It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when I was able to convince the group to drive down to the strawberry stand off Westside Road, promising them I heard that the price for picking had gone down as the season was coming to a close soon. I was of course only able to do this by reminding them how great jumping in the river would feel after we spent a little while in the sun. So we piled into two cars and set off on the adventure, only to find that the stand appeared to be all but abandoned upon our arrival.

My heart sank. After our outing to the terribly disappointing Conway strawberry festival (which, yes, was also upon my insistence), I had promised that this experience today would make up for the let down of the last. Yet when we pulled up to the stand, we were met only by an unenthusiastic teenage boy most likely set up by his parents to sell what appeared to be some store bought blueberries and the remaining of their homemade jams. I leaned out to ask if we could still go pick berries from the field and was answered with the information that strawberry season was “officially over”. The situation was looking increasingly bleak by the moment, and everyone knew it. But with our Shoestring crew tenacity we pushed further.

“Can we go look? Just check if there’s anything?”

“I mean, there’s nothing there, the season is over, but I guess you can go look if you want”

After a minute or two of debating amongst ourselves, Adam decided that was all the permission we needed, and that it was at least worth the look. Within about a minute of stepping out of the car and into the fields, we were sure glad we took this opportunity. Strawberries could be seen from nearly right off the road. End of the season? No more left? Had these people been blind? Some of the rows towards the back appeared to never have even been picked this season. We hit strawberry a secret heaven and it was all ours!

We grabbed any container we could find. Whether it be stray cups from the car, an old tote bag, our shirt ends folded over to double as a sack, or left over picking containers strewn through the fields. We filled them all. Everywhere you turned you were met by berries even bigger and more abundant than the last you grabbed. We continued like this for over an hour, scouring row after row until our fingers were died red and our stomachs began to ache. I won’t lie, a few of us may have gone a little strawberry mad.

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In the end though, our berry insanity paid off big time. We sorted the loot into categories of strawberries that could be eaten in the next few days, those that needed to be used immediately, and those that we would freeze to save. This, believe me, was no easy task, but well worth it when we had enough strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry smoothies to last us to the end of the summer. Moral of the story: strawberry season isn’t over until the Shoestring crew says it’s over.

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Tubing!
October 9, 2013, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Recreation

By Joe Kendrick

Tubing!

The heat wave that has lingered for the past two weeks finally broke on Saturday night. I’ll certainly be sleeping easier, and field work will be a lot more pleasant, but I’m sad to say that the cooler temperatures might make tubing a bit less attractive. This past Saturday and the one before, every crew member who was around grabbed a cheap, colorful plastic inner tube and eagerly jumped into the Saco River. Both times we put in just above the Second Iron railroad bridge and floated down past the slabs until we felt like getting out. The ride takes somewhere between two and three hours, but you hardly notice the time going by.

The effects of Irene on the riverbank are still pretty obvious. In many places the river follows a channel in the middle of a barren field of boulders. The rapids here can be a bit shallow, and a couple of us definitely hit our butts pretty hard on the rocks. If it hadn’t been such a wet summer I don’t know what we would have done at these spots, but as it was we were able to make the entire run without getting out of our tubes.

None of the rapids on this stretch of the river are at all dangerous, but a few do feel pretty intense while you’re going down them in a tube. Just after second iron, five minutes into the trip there’s a spot where you shoot down the river and get flung around a bunch of big rocks, which is always a blast. At the slabs, the water rushes over a smooth sheet of granite, and you slide right on down into a big splash at the bottom. We’ve become experts at running the rapids, but it’s really a wonder that no one’s tube has snagged on a rock and popped. So far there’s only been one wipe out; at the very end of our last run, Craig was going down a rapid backwards and flipped completely over. His tube was spotted floating empty down the river and retrieved. A minute later he was spotted a hundred yards upstream stumbling towards the bank looking dazed but otherwise unscathed.