Free For The Harvesting

Posted by Rural Missourian on Sep 5th, 2008

I am ever delighted by the cornucopia of God’s creation. Today, my family and I took a peaceful, invigorating stroll along a meandering road that lies in close proximity to Rayville. The stretch of road we walked is bordered on one side by a dense growth of various native trees and shrubs which extends for about three quarters of a mile. They are not cared for by anyone and tend to look rather shabby and overgrown, but the fruit is free for the harvesting.  Earlier in the summer my wife and daughter picked numerous quantities of delicious mulberries, blackberries, gooseberries, black raspberries, and wild strawberries along this extended wild berry grove. With fall now descending upon us with cooler, shorter days, the time is coming soon to harvest the various nuts and nut fruit that grow along the same short stretch of road . . . walnuts, hickory nuts, and persimmons.

This, of course, is nothing unusual for Missouri, where just about anywhere you find clusters of native trees, you’ll find all kinds of fruits and nuts, which is typical for much of the Midwest. Though there are not any Pawpaw trees along the road, as it is too exposed to sunlight, I am fairly sure they are close by since not too far away there lies a deep creek bottom darkened under a towering canopy of large sycamore, maple, and oak trees, an ideal place after the first frost to find the delicious Pawpaw fruit hanging from its tropical looking branches.

Fall also means sorghum syrup time and the sorghum crop looks great this year with the abundant rains we have been blessed with, though it has been the worst year to bale hay since the floods of 1993. The annual Sorghum Festival of the Crooked River Working Horse and Mule Club is coming up the first Saturday in October. That just begins the fun and work, as there are plenty more sorghum patches to be cut, squeezed, and cooked. This has also got me to thinking about Boxelder syrup . . . that’s right, Boxelder syrup.

Though it’s considered a trash tree by many, the short-lived Boxelder is a member of the Maple family and its seeds are an important food source for deer and other animals during the winter. I must admit that it doesn’t hold a candle to the majestic Sugar Maple, which also grows in these parts, though not nearly as much as the Soft Maple, which grow like weeds around here. Many of the Indian tribes along the Missouri River made syrup from the Boxelder, not to mention the early pioneers who first settled the territory. I’ve never tried it, but I am game to give it a shot. May your fall harvest be a blessing to you with God’s blessing. — The Rural Missourian