Friday, August 08, 2008

The Last of the Blueberries

the field
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

It wasn’t because we actually needed the blueberries. We’d already gotten better than 15 gallons between the u-pick place and our own bushes. But last year was a complete blueberry failure and one just never knows. We are not likely to regret having plenty of blueberries preserved in various fashions. Besides, the proprietress of the blueberries and I had been discussing cheese the last time we were there and I wanted to take her a round. And there was the fish at the biker convenience store lunch counter, it being Friday.

So in early afternoon we saddled up the van, waited until the youngest child had killed the monster he was battling, and went picking just for an hour or two. Mrs. Grullo was mowing and I interrupted her to give her the cheese so she could put it in the fridge. “It’s just a mozzarella,” I said.

“Oh, I’ll have that for my supper,” she said. And then she told me about how someone who makes cheese down the Stony Creek way was supposed to bring her some milk so she could do it again. I love sharing cheese with someone else who has done it. I would love to taste hers -- she evidently didn’t use rennet and when it was finished she fried the cheese in butter. Sounds interesting.

A cold front had come through the day before and cooled and dehumidified the air, and for August it was a downright pleasant afternoon. The late berries are in the middle of the field, and their bushes are bigger than the others and grown together so getting to them involves pushing through the bushes, sometimes crawling under them to stand up surrounded by them. If you get in a really good spot, you can pick a half-gallon just by turning around. With so many berries already ripe, the bees and yellow jacket and bumble bees and japanese beetles and june bugs are out in force. I had to move once because I discovered that there, right beside my face, was a frond of berries just covered with honey bees. The slight buzz is about the only constant noise in the field. Occasionally a crow will call, or a cow across the street will low, or an engine down the road will grumble and complain.

The only other sound is that of berries hitting the bottom of the bucket, or later in the picking, berries hitting berries in the bucket. Although the field is in a magnificent high alluvial valley circled by mountains, in the midst of the late blueberries I can see only bushes and blueberries. There is only one other picker in the field but I end up close enough to him to hear his berries dropping. Of course, because it is only polite, I speak. He is from just over the mountain to the north instead of the west, which is where I am from. He has a large garden and has put up 52 quarts of green beans and just this morning broke 12 more quarts which he will put up tonight when he gets home with the berries. “The way the economy is going,” he says, “I figure we might be glad to have a quart of beans to eat.” I concur, although with the proviso that there is nothing better than home canned green beans anyway, with which he also agrees.

When we have gotten our four gallons, we settle up with Mrs. Grullo. She told me once that she’d lost her son, Malcolm, in a wreck and since then she’d had to keep herself extra busy. My guess is that this happened years ago but loss can be ever fresh. I give her my thanks for making this field available to all of us and tell her this will likely be our last trip over the mountain to pick. “Oh, maybe in the fall you can come back just to visit?” she asks.

“Maybe we’ll call you,” I say, “and ask you to join us for some fish down at the store.”

“Yes, I could maybe do that,” she smiles.

Tomorrow I shall make more cheese because I have a fridge full of milk. And butter and yogurt and sour cream. And bread. And a blueberry pie. I will cut up the rest of the peaches to dry. And make pizzas!

And I will look forward to eating fish with Mrs. Grullo.


Anonymous said...

The commentary under your other blueberry pickin' photos (at Flickr) are almost as entertaining as this post!

YAY whiny kids.

Inquiring minds want to know what monster the young'un was battling.

Alecto said...

I like that; very peaceful and easy. Sounds like a wonderful day. And yes, what sort of monster was it?

Anonymous said...

The Jabberwocky perhaps??

CG said...

His monsters are his own! The conversation went something like this: "It's time to get in the car." "I have to kill this monster first." "Then hurry and dispatch him. And remember, after we pick blueberries, we're going to eat!" "Give me my sword!." Then, "Monster chicken!" as a victory cry as he got in the car.