Today I wanted to burst into song! My friend K. and I headed out bright and early for our favorite local, organic, family-owned blueberry patch, where last week we had each separately been greeted by this sign:
This morning, however, the patch was open for business...and already hopping at 7:50 a.m.! We found a parking spot right away and commenced to picking. It was a perfect day, a bit overcast and not too hot.
Look at K.'s wonderful picking contraption! She was faster than me, for sure. We also differed a little in technique. Since I often get lazy about processing and just freeze the berries right in their liner bag (it works), I'm a little pickier about trying not to get stems, green berries and mummy berries (not mommy berries) in my bucket.
Predictably we saw several people we knew at this popular site close to town, and we were both excited to hear at least four other languages spoken besides English (Spanish, French, Mandarin, and an Asian language I wasn't familiar with). The berries were so big, blue, beautiful, and abundant that there was ample picking for all and any competitiveness about finding or guarding the best bushes turned into friendly helpfulness among fellow gatherers.
For those of you who have never experienced it, I wish I could convey to you the joy of picking blueberries when the picking is good. K. kept saying that she wanted to contact the Oregon Blueberry Grower's Association and encourage them to come up with a song, or perhaps sponsor a competition for lyrics, about the experience. Though we couldn't get very far in our musical endeavor (too focused on picking...and eating! it's hard to sing with your mouth full) it was fun to imagine the entire large, humming-with-people blueberry field bursting into song (and maybe dance) together.
These pictures make it look like the field was empty, but actually the whole hillside was full of people, and the road below was lined with cars. This patch doesn't even advertise these days. Their berries are so good and so well-known that they don't need to.
I turned into a Mama Bear (K. said Mama Squirrel, which might be more appropriate since my cheeks were full of blueberries), completely focused on gathering food for my family for the winter. I achieved a personal picking best: three heaping two-gallon buckets in under three hours, each weighing about 12-14 lbs. For $45 that's a pretty good deal! As we picked, I heard a little one in the next row listing all the things she wanted to eat with blueberries, and I had to smile since I had been thinking about the same thing: blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry jam, blueberry smoothies, blueberry pie....I could go on...
Now I'm looking forward to baking blueberry things for my boys. I'm also enjoying the smell of the delicious cinnamon-walnut zucchini bread in the oven that's wafting up the stairs...no blueberries in it because they're all in the freezer already. After all that great picking, I was tempted to just keep going this afternoon and find a farm with green beans, but reason prevailed and I spent the afternoon working in the garden and mulching my own blueberry bushes instead.
Tonight I am feeling very, very fortunate for food and space to grow food. Also a climate that permits it. It is so basic and so important.
What are you grateful for today? What fun thing did you do this weekend?