Monday, May 28, 2018

Blueberries are a joy of rural life ~ my column from Sunday's paper

We have a row of blueberry bushes at the edge of our garden. Through the years we’d plant one here and there.

Now, they dot the crest of a terrace row and they curve almost 90 degrees from one end to the other. The older ones are taller than my head. Right now, the branches on all the bushes are laden with fruit. When the sun is right, the basket of berries looks like it’s full of obsidian. After the picking is done each day, the tips of my fingers look bruised. Not only are they beautiful, they taste like little lumps of heaven.

Last Sunday, we had blueberry waffles for breakfast. Blueberry smoothies were on the menu almost every morning. Before long, we’ll make a batch of blueberry ice cream and I can promise you that a blueberry pound cake figures into the future. Jilda has mastered a recipe that “will make you want to slap your mama.” I’m not sure where that saying came from. But that means that something is really good.

There’s an art to picking blueberries. I can’t go out in a hurry because the berries can be elusive. They have some kind of cloaking device when you try to pick too fast. I’ll pick for a while and then step back to survey the bush and find ripe blueberries everywhere. After I’m satisfied that there are no more ripe berries on the bush, Jilda will walk up and say, “You missed one,” and pick a fat berry.

This morning after coffee, I took a basket out to pick. After a few minutes, hands fell into the gentle rhythm. Off in the distance, I heard crows and two owls courting. A squirrel sat on the back gate and evaluated my style. 

The morning was warm. When I took off my hat to wipe sweat from my brow, the sky overhead was scattered with clouds. An airliner so high that its whispering sound was almost inaudible. Picking blueberries can be as relaxing as deep meditation. I could come off blood pressure meds if I picked blueberries for a living.

The bliss was broken by the sound of laughter coming from the house. Just then, my great nephew Jordan darted through the backyard with a basket in hand. He was the cavalry coming to help on berry duty.

I’d finished one bush and about to start on another one.  He stepped up beside me as I surveyed my handiwork. He said, “You missed one.” He leaned down and picked a blueberry as fat as a plum and popped it in his mouth. He then dropped down to his knees and picked a pint of blueberries that I had missed. A fresh perspective is just what this chore needed.

After the picking was finished, we sat in the shade of the pear tree to cool off before taking out bounty inside. He snapped a small branch off the pear tree and created what looked like a toothpick. He then picked a half-dozen fat berries from his basket and made a blueberry kabob. Holding it up proudly, he said, “I love these things.” With one swift move, the berries were in his mouth and his stick was clean. 

People sometimes ask me why we live in the sticks. If they’d ever picked and ate warm blueberries off the bush or had a slab of Jilda’s blueberry pound cake, I wouldn’t have to explain.

A crew of blueberry pickers came in to help with the harvest.


  1. Recreational berry picking does sound relaxing...and tasty, but I think doing it for a living might be a tedious exhausting profession. and from all the berries that you apparently miss, it may not be a good avocational choice.

  2. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I enjoyed blueberry picking with you!!

  3. I am with joeh. Sadly professional pickers don't get time to listen to the owls, and are penalised for missed fruit.
    Recreational picking is blissful though.

  4. Wow, your blueberry bushes are high and I can see that they are loaded. You certainly got a good picking crew for the low branches.

    I love blueberry anything and I think the blueberry kabob is just so cool.
    Hugs, Julia

  5. They do say that gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth. And you garden of blueberries sounds like you have it there. Having some helpers make the work a lot less hard for sure. What a great bunch you have there !

  6. I was just telling Nick about your blueberry bushes. He eats them every morning in his oatmeal. The stores have been running low on blueberries and hes struggling tonfind good ones. We need a few bushes!

  7. My Mother-in-law and I would pick blueberries at a place called "Blueberry Hill" and the berries looked like grapes! So yummy. The old man that owned the place was a funny guy. When you pulled in and got out of the car he would decide if you could pick his berries. Yes, it was open to the public but also open to his opinion of you! We must have looked OK because he never yelled at us to leave. That's one of the fun things I miss about my Mother-in-law..our berry picking adventures! Our bushes are producing more these days but not like yours. Jack tends to them faithfully though in hopes for awesomeness like you!

  8. Jordan has the right idea. He enjoys the fruits of his labor. Anyone who has access to fresh fruit and vegetables knows that they taste better.


Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required