Notes from Windward: #67


Bike Rides and Blackberry Jam

Lindsay describes her second day at Windward

     Today, on my second full day at Windward, Walt and I loaded two bikes into the truck, drove down the hill, dropping about 1,500 feet to the Klickitat River Valley and proceeded to bike northward along an old logging road that parallels the river. With the sun shining, and the clouds only adding more texture to the open sky, we pedaled along the river, with the hills (though in the New England, we would certainly call them mountains) rising on all sides. About eight miles in, the road abruptly ends with a 10 foot drop-off down to the meandering Klickitat.

      In 1996, the road was washed out by a flood, and since the lumber mill in Klickitat closed down a few years earlier, in 1992, there was little incentive to rebuild the road. But this just provided us with an excuse for a little bit of exploring to see if the road still exists on the other side...Taking off my shoes, I waded into the river where, at the deepest point, the refreshingly cool water came up to just above my knees.


     On the other side, my toes squished into the sandy beaches, and after walking a little further inland, I was disappointed to find no road, only more river. At this particular point in the river, the Klickitat takes a wide meander, flowing west and then east again before continuing on its journey south to join the Columbia River. So the first portion I crossed was just the southern-most section of the meander, leaving one more river crossing between me and the possibility of locating the old logging road. I guess we will just have to go for another bike ride soon, while the river is still low, to continue on the search for the road which may extend for another 10 miles up river.


     On the way back, we stopped to pick a few blackberries growing along the road. They were so delicious and so abundant I knew I would need to come back to pick some to bring back to Windward. So after lunch, I placed my water bottle and a few tupperware containers in the plastic milk crate on the back of the bike and rode back down to the Klickitat. The blackberry bush is a plant worthy of great respect, as its sharp and prolific thorns protect the plump, juicy berries from those eager to taste them. Never have I seen such copious amounts of berries on a single bush, and we are now reaching the end of the blackberry season, so I can only imagine what it was like a few weeks ago.

     There is a song in the Windward collection about priming the pump before you are worthy to receive—that you need to put the effort into building a system before you can benefit from its production. [Lindsay's referring to Desert Pete by the Kingston Trio; I'll append some of the lyrics--Walt] Yet the wild resources of this region, such as these blackberry bushes along the Klickitat, seem more like a simple gift given to those observant enough to take notice and willing to put in a few moments of gathering on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Several fishermen passed me by as I was picking, heading home from a day spent fly-fishing the Klickitat. None of them had fish; I had containers full of blackberries, and not one person stopped to try one.

     I gathered up what I could fit into the containers, and made my way back to Windward. The bike ride up the hill reduced some of the very ripe berries to mush, ruining any hopes I had of dehydrating the berries in order to preserve them. So I made jam instead, adding a few apples from the young apple trees near the garden to give it a little twist. Here is the recipe Gina and I came up with:

Blackberry Apple Jam

  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 2 cups diced apples (with peels)
  • 1 package of pectin (2 oz)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups sugar

     Combine fruit, pectin and lemon juice in a large sauce pan and cook until it boils. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook at 240° F for 15 minutes or until the jam maintains integrity when it is dropped into ice cold water (if it forms little balls as it sinks to the bottom off the cup it is ready, if it separates, it needs to cook more). Pour into clean jars and cover. Enjoy!

     There aren't many songs that describe the Windward experience better than Desert Pete. It describes the experience of a man who finds a water pump in the midst of a hot desert. At the base of the pump is a bottle of water and a note which says ....

Now there's just enough to prime her with
So don't you go drinking first.
Just pour 'er in, and pump like mad,
And buddy, you'll quench your thirst.
You've got to prime the pump,
You must have faith and believe.
You've got to give of yourself
Before you're worthy to recieve.
Drink all the water you can hold,
Wash your face and cool your feet.
Leave the bottle full for others,
And thank kindly Desert Pete.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67