“What do you think, guys?” I asked.
“Let’s do it!” they said.
A smart blueberry picker would wait a bit longer. If we did, there would be fewer green berries to pick around. But we’ve been down this road before and we know if we wait too long, the deer and birds will have had their way with the crop. Too early is better than too late, I’ve found. Besides, recent rain has made them nice and plump. We’ve waited long enough. So we head out after dinner, berry containers in hand, and start picking.
Our blueberry patch isn’t much. It’s pretty scruffy from neglect–it’s a power line easement, so we can’t do a controlled burn to keep the grass and ferns at bay. But if you are willing to be a little patient, ignore the mosquitoes, and put some work in, you can gather a pretty good amount of berries. We all set to work and, to my surprise, there’s very little Sal-ing of the berries. Almost everything they pick makes it into their containers.
But they soon notice they aren’t keeping up with me. My son peeks into my container and says, “Wow, Mom! You have so many!” My ever-nosy daughter stands up from her spot a ways away and stretches to look, too. “Why do you have so much more than me?” she asks. I shrug nonchalantly, but inside I’m grinning. I remember my mother’s mysterious ability to pick three times as many berries as I did and how frustrating it was. Now I’m the one with the magically filling container. I could show them how to cup their hand under the berries and roll them off the stem with their thumb instead of picking one by one, but I had to learn it myself and they probably should, too.
About 45 minutes later, we’re starting to wind down. The mosquitoes have gotten more aggressive and are no longer dissuaded by our meager application of bug spray. We’ve gathered enough for tonight. Not enough for a pie, but it’s enough to add to yogurt for breakfast tomorrow, a batch of muffins, and a few extra handfuls on the side.
Sure, it’s easier to go to the farmstand and buy some blueberries. We will do that, too, because I like to freeze a bunch to fulfill our blueberry cravings all winter long. But I think it’s important to head out back and pick what we can as well–leaving some for those birds and deer, too–so that we can taste them warm from the sun and full of our hard work.
And the fact that they think I’m a berry-picking genius? That’s just a bonus.