Thursday, August 21, 2008
Summer has been flying by at a lazy, rain-drenched pace, and here it is late August already. The weather experts inform us this has been the wettest summer "on record" for Western Mass; now that's impressive! Lots of rain makes the sunny days all the more magical, and keeps the blueberries ripening on the bushes, somewhat past their expected expiration date I believe. Great news for all of us blueberry lovers!
This year on my birthday, which happened by chance to coincide with perfectly clear and sunny skies, I went blueberry picking for the first time in my life. What a thrill! Sure, I'd picked lots of those tiny, delicious wild blueberries in my day, the kind that grow low along trailside paths and such, but these were cultivated highbush berries, an entirely different animal. The bushes themselves average six feet in height, so they are tall and proud to be absolutely laden with deep blue fruits that hang down in small bunches, like grapes. My partner and I were each given a lightweight plastic pail on a long white nylon cord to hang around our necks, and with a bounce in our step, set forth upon the corridor of dreams.
Jaws open and uplifted like little birds to receive their mother's manna, we filled our mouths, bellies and, of course, our pails with fingerfulls and handfulls of the biggest, sweetest blueberries I've ever tasted. All warm from the sun, bursting with juice, smooth-skinned on the lips, tender to the bite and just barely tart on the pop... it was blueberry heaven! So many berries! In only one hour we picked NINE POUNDS!!! (And that's not counting all we could eat!) Now my freezer is full and my heart is glad, knowing there are many blueberry-kissed smoothies in store for future days, brightening the chill promise of winter.