Monthly Archives: November 2013

Whitesbog Village

 blue sky grass cranberries

I restlessly fidgeted with the bottom of  my shirt and rearranged the food on my dinner plate. My body was tingling with excitement; tomorrow I was going on a field trip  to Whitesbog Village, a cranberry bog, witch happened to produce a great quantity  of cranberries for Ocean Spray! As I snuggled up in bed, the last thought that ran through my head was how much fun I was going to have the next day.

 

I woke up to a soft tickling of air in my ear.”Rise and shine,” my dad breathed. I sat bolt upright, and my heavy eyelids snapped open. I leaped from my bed, eager to get to the day that lay ahead. As I tossed on an outfit (An orange baseball cap,orange t-shirt,red fleece, worn jeans, and red converse,)I noticed my twin sister Ariana-who was just as excited as I was- jamming on her own outfit.”Race ya!” I hollered to Ariana, bolting down the steps to the kitchen. I finished off the last of my corn flakes just as Ariana came thundering down he stairs. I was one step ahead of her. I slipped on my book bag and zipped out the door. Ariana joined me just as the school bus pulled up to our house. We sprinted down the drive way and hurtled ourselves into the bus.

As we pulled up to school, it dawned on me to keep my eyes peeled for my mom, as she was a chaperone for this field trip. I bounced up and down in my seat, squealing with delight and anticipation. I bounded out of the bus, but slowed to a walk as I approached the school because of course there is”No running in the hallways.” I met up with two of my schoolmates in the hallway and asked for their opinions on the field trip. They where just as excited as I was. I mean, what kid wouldn’t trade a normal school day for an educational and fun field trip to a cranberry bog?(Emphasis on educational.)Me, I love school, but it’s the same schedule every day, so some change was exciting, especially if it meant going to new places and leaning new things.

As I just mentioned, kids love field trips, so the teacher had trouble rounding us kids up. As we finally got herded into the bus, I spotted my mom. She waved me over, and I sat in the middle seat (she was in a three seater)while she sat a the window seat. Then another chaperone sat on the seat closest to the isle, so I spent the entire 30 minute trip sandwiched in between two moms. Every couple of minutes I would groan”Are we there yet?” until the answer was finally yes.

The moment I stepped onto the bog soil a thrill rippled through my body. My group(consisting of  two fourth grade classes,)trudged around the “wet harvest”bog to cranberry workersstudy a new type of cranberry picker called a “floating picker.” The way the floating picker worked was that underneath the picker’s boat like structure, there was a comb that ran through  the cranberry vines, which of course bore cranberries. When the comb loosened the cranberries, they floated to the top of the bog, creating a beautiful scene with different shades of reds and pinks floating into sight, melding together into a sea of crimson. The floating picker had recently been updated to feature a GPS, witch seemed to be very helpful to the farmer, as it tracked where the picker had already been. I drank in every detail of how he bog ran.

Our next stop was to see how the floating cranberries got transported to land. First,some workers waded into the water, where there was a bunch of cranberries floating in one group held together by a yellow tube called a boom. Then the men pushed the cranberries into a suction tube that transported the cranberries onto a conveyer belt . The conveyer belt then loaded the cranberries onto a truck that hauled them away to an storage facility.

I hopped back onto the bus is good spirits, anxious for more. The bus pulled up to the  village neighboring the  bog, called Whitesbog Village.”How did this pace get a name like that?” I wondered aloud.”You’re about to find out,”a  cheery guide replied with a wink. A chilly wind whipped through my hair, and I shivered. The guide, on the other hand, seemed perfectly unfazed. I soon found out why. As my group entered a shack, where we were apparently going to learn the bog’s history, we were greeted by a graft of freezing air. No wonder a little breeze didn’t bother the guide; it was like a refrigerator in the shack! I trudged up the isle and plopped down in a folding chair next to one of my classmates in the front row.

We started the presentation with a play. Select kids were called up at different points to play the growing number of parts. The show started with a Lenape woman standing with  a basket which supposedly held fresh picked cranberries, because the land of Whitesbog Village had originally belonged to the Lenape people. Shortly after, a farmer called James cranberry stalkA.  Fenwick bought the property. By the 1860’s, Fenwick had succeeded in cultivating the property for cranberry growth. Once business started, barrels of cranberries cost $10 each.  In 1882, Fenwick passed, and his son in law Joseph J. White took over, along with his wife, Mary White. Joseph’s daughter, Elizabeth Coleman White, often assisted him in his work. Eventually, Elizabeth took an interest in blueberry farming and worked with scientist Dr. Fredrick Coville to cultivate blueberries as well as cranberries.She succeeded in 1916, and blueberries went for sale in Whitesbog. After a while, the Whites hired workers to help dry harvest and wet harvest the cranberries and blueberries. But there was a catch. There was nowhere for the workers to stay overnight! And so Whitesbog village was created,and it was a big help, even if four families of workers had to live in the same house. Of course, that is how Whitesbog Village got it’s name; the Whites owned a bog, and there was a Village for he bog workers.

At one  point in the play(In the period of time when the Village was being made, )one of my friends got called up to play a building. I hesitantly waved to her, and in response the corners of her mouth twitched as she made a steeple above her with her hands. I grinned a toothy grin at her just as the play was coming to an end. A sigh of relief seemed to make it’s way around the room, but I didn’t join in. Instead, I made a peace sign above my head, a symbol of respect at my school. The teacher clapped her hands, and the roar of voices that had begun to spread like fungi died down.

Everyone was looking forward to leaving the chilly shack, but the production wasn’t over yet. Just as everyone had gathered up their things, I got wind of the fact that we were going to watch a slide show, and from there the news just spread. The slide show was short, so I only learned the following: Cranberries used to be known as crane-berries; as in the bird, that at one point in Whitesbog history the berries were hand sorted and picked; one by one, the rooms were cranberries were held had holes in the slates so natural air could get to them,and that there are two methods of cranberry harvest; dry harvest and wet harvest. Soon enough however the tour guide was clapping her hands, and we were finally permitted to leave the dark, damp, and dingy room.

I breathed in deeply, elated to be back in the sun. As I took in my surroundings, a grin spread across my face. “Time for lunch!”someone in the distance hollered. My stomach rumbled as if on cue. The whole grade filed into a convenience store to wash up and collect our lunches. As soon as I finished washing, I ran to collect my lunch. Once that was done, I bolted outside to the orchard type place where I was to be dining. I dropped heavily onto he first wooden picnic table I saw and started to devour my lunch; a sandwich, a juice, a chewy granola bar, and-yum- two chocolate covered pretzels! When I fianally glanced up from my food, I discovered that I had plopped down at a table with four boys and no girls to speak of! Just as I was about to mentioned this, my mom scooted in next to me. So much for there being no girls.  As I scouted around to find Ariana, my gaze landed on one of those board thingy’s where you can sick you’re head into a hole and fill in a persons head or such. This board had holes over a blueberry, a woman, and for some reason the Jersey Devil.damp cranberries2

One of the boys followed my gaze and yelled for the whole world to hear,”Hey, why is there a Jersey Devil on that board?” Soon every head in the whole orchard was turned in our direction. I, for my part, tried to keep my face from going scarlet. Instead, all of a sudden feet began to pound the hardened ground toward the board. I tried not to join the stampede, but I couldn’t help it. Even my mom couldn’t resist that seemingly magnetic pull to her sense of adventure.

From there, all chaos seemed to unravel. There was screaming, yelling, pushing, and shoving, all to strike a pose, flash a light, and have a snapshot of the moment. Finally, when half the kids were blinded  by he flash of their own picture, the pandemonium died down. As we lined up there was more than a smattering of sheepish grins. I skipped along, wondering were the next and final pit-stop of our journey was going to take us.

When we filed up to the dry harvest bog, a thought accured to me. We were going to pick cranberries! As excited as I was, I knew not to get my hopes up. A voice shattered my thought like a rock shatters a window. “As you may have guessed, we are going yo let you kiddos give dry harvest a try!” There was a shower of cheers, the loudest one coming from me. “But first, I have to show you how it’s done.” The thought of waiting diminished the cheers like water diminishing a flame. Waiting aside, I still watched the process intently. “Pull the cranberries off the vine carefully, so you don’t squish the cranberry. It is perfectly fine to pick a white cranberry; that means that is just needs to ripen before being eaten. Those are all very important things to remember, but the key factor, kiddos, is to not pick mushy cranberries. The ones you want are the hard ones. If their soft, it means they are rotten, and who wants a rotten cranberry?” There was a sprinkling of joking “me”s. “Anyhow,” the guide shouted,”who wants to get started?” She was answered by a deafening cheer.

I searched through the dozens of feet to find the perfect berry. I soon learned that there cranberry dry harvestwas no such thing. Even after 10 minutes of searching, the closest berry to perfect had white all along one side. I soon found a”honeyhole” of hard cranberries. The catch was that if you did find a honeyhole, the cranberries in it would soon run out, and I would have to set out once more to find another honeyhole. This would be no big deal, except right smack in the middle of the bog there was a stream, so every time I traveled to place to place I would have to leap  over the stream, and as I had to slow down when I did so, it was an extreme waste of time. All in all, though, it was an amazing experience

As we loaded back onto he bus it was all I could do not to wave goodbye to the bog. I strapped on my seatbelt and stared into the distance at the bog until it was just a speck in the distance.