Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blueberries for Sal

It seems that I have inherited at least a piece of a the traditional female gatherer gene - I love picking berries. Always have. In fact, the book that sprang to the top of my most-often-checked-out-from-the-library list was Blueberries for Sal. Now as an adult I have a copy of it sitting on my bookshelf (and the bear part seems even more appropriate this year than ever).

So I have been simultaneously thrilled and a bit disturbed to find my favorite blueberry patch to be absolutely brimming with big, juicy berries over the last three weeks - and apparently nobody else was picking them.

This is great because, of course, all the more for me. But really, there are far more berries than I have time to pick (although I can get nearly a half-gallon milk jug-full in an hour), and I hate to see that opportunity go to waste. Mostly I’m disappointed, however, because while this patch isn’t very far from town, it’s not exactly hidden and it can’t be that well-kept of a secret, the patch remains empty even at (what I considered) prime picking times.

There is just something so fulfilling about sitting in the middle of a patch of plants heavy with big juicy berries, gathering them all together into a container, then heading home to do something wonderful with them. Or, if you’re like Sal, dropping a few into the bottom of your berry bucket, listening to them go plink, plink, plink, then eating one or two, then picking out the two at the bottom of your pail and eating those. Rest and repeat.

Unfortunately my work and life schedule and the rain schedule haven’t allowed me more than a few hours here and there, but those hours have given me blueberry smoothies and pancakes and several quarts in the refrigerator (also unfortunately, the gatherer gene hasn't found time to morph in the Sal's mother's canning gene, so extra berries will probably just wind up the freezer). Still, why isn’t anybody else out there picking?

Today I was gratified to find a few weekend pickers wander out while I was out there - I welcomed them to my patch and offered all that I could share. The easiest of the summertime bounty.

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