Let the beauty we love,
be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."
The Farmwife Diaries
Dream Come True, in Blue
In the blueberry field this morning with my 4 year old boy, I say, “Did you know there is a star in the center of each berry?” I show him the starry perforated pattern at the juncture where the berry meets the stem. I am thinking of native blueberry folklore and how one tribal name for the fruit was apparently “starberry.” But my boy replies, “It’s a window!” I love it when little kids utter offbeat things that sound especially wise. If the calyx of the blueberry is a window, then it opens to reveal a field of joy to my boy.
This child has consumed nothing but blueberries for days. I ask him today if he thinks human beings can survive eating only blueberries. It’s hard for me to understand his response because his mouth is so densely packed with them.
These berries, some of which are as big as small plums, are clustered in enormous ripened clumps, begging to be picked. I know that it’s anthropomorphizing to use the term “begging," but isn’t the biological function of the berry to disperse seeds? We are responding to the call of an ancient pact between animal and bush! Bush makes delicious fruit to entice us and we consume, defecate and distribute the seeds across the land. Well, actually, modern sanitation has thwarted the proper fulfillment of this agreement by human beings, but the seductive powers of the berry bush still beckon strong.
My 9 year old boy is earning $5 a bucket for picking the blues. He is motivated to make money (saving up for a titanium superhero shield) and I am motivated to consume and freeze as many berries as I can hold in my belly and freezer.
A blueberry a day keeps the blues away…
I know a few people who do not like blueberries (Toby and Annabeth) but everyone else seems to love, love, love them. The blueberry comes in the perfect bite-sized, mouth-pleasing shape; it is not too sweet and not too sour; it has a firm but yielding texture; it even has health benefits. They are high in antioxidants, rich in vitamins, reduce abdominal fat, promote urinary tract health, preserve vision, boost memory, and prevent heart disease. And they are scrumptious. Why would anyone need candy? I ask my boys. They do indeed love blueberries, but they are not convinced that this makes candy obsolete.
I want everyone on earth to have this experience— of walking into a berry patch on a warm summer-day, bountiful bushes towering overhead and berry branches practically reaching out to deposit orbs of blue joy into open mouths. Peace on earth may be found at last in such a place. How could anyone argue with a mouth full of berries?
One Halloween we had a bunch of kids gather after dark and walk around the farm encountering different costumed characters in surprising places. Our friend Hope was the “berry fairy,” dressed in gauzy white and fluttering through the berry field handing out chocolate-covered berries.
Some of my most vividly happy memories of childhood are moments discovering ripe berries on the rocky shores of a New Hampshire lake. The berries were dark and shiny but hidden among the dense green leaves of low-growing bushes. You had to really want to find them. And it was better than finding money on the street or opening holiday presents. This was joy, direct from earth to mouth, from ground to soul.
My destiny was determined by the blueberry. I followed a small, sweet blue fruit into my future. This season’s berry crop, the biggest yield we have seen in years, is a dream come true, in blue.