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 …
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 laugher coming from the house. Just then, my great nephew Jordan darted through the backyard with a basket in hand. He was the calvary 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 on 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.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.