The Ketchup Advisory Board

Do you listen to A Prairie Home Companion? If you don’t, the title of this post makes no sense at all.

GK says that ketchup has natural mellowing agents. I haven’t made ketchup yet (because tomatoes aren’t cheap or abundant until late summer) but I underwent a series of mellowing activities in the past few days. Let me catch you up to speed.

I headed to Upstate New York for the very first time on Monday. A mere one and a half hour jaunt via Amtrak delivered me into the heart of the Hudson Valley. This started out as a berry picking adventure with a number of other cool bloggers, and then I decided it was also to be a writing getaway. I went up a day early. As it were, I should’ve gone up a week early.

There were lots of bridges to see on my way up. I like bridges.

I landed here.

I took immediate advantage of the non-city environment in which I found myself.

And I did what any completely overwhelmed person on book deadline might do…

I partook in one of my favourite pastimes, walking around and looking in other people’s windows.

Hello, who’s calling? Oh, hey what’s up super-luxurious bathtub?

My stay at The Rhinecliff was absolutely marvelous.

I watched the sun rise.

I dreamed of living in this lighthouse.

And then I remembered what brought me here:

Shae, one of the other blog goddesses, drove us around the winding, lush backroads of Upstate territory. Roads forked, both with and without flatware.

We landed at Thompson Finch Farm where we picked (and then picnicked) until our hearts and bellies were content.

I chatted with Tigress of Jam and Pickle fame while she picked a few rows over; she told me that her very first job was strawberry picking.

Julia’s wonderful little human, Sterling, assisted me at one point, periodically selecting the largest berries from my basket, taking a big chomp, and then replacing the carnage in the basket!

This was my first experience with picking my own fruit, what a fun time! With the assistance of a hat and some sunblock, I brought home (via Shae’s rental car, Amtrak and finally NYC subway) a flat of strawberries for only $9.26. My jaw dropped when the friendly lady with the scale totaled up my purchase. Organic, fresh-picked berries at $2.20/lb.

We picnicked under a tree on the farm after everyone’s boxes filled with berries. The bloggers-that’ve-met-in-real-life club presented mighty fine larder and homemade goods for our inaugural feast.

Not much writing happened on my getaway, though my mini-retreat included a whole lot of catching up on sanity, quiet and standing still.