Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mine. All Mine.

"Help yourself," I always say. "Let me get you a bucket," I say.

I get a good raspberry crop and I'm happy to share. The neighbors appreciate the berries. Strangers passing by in the alley leave with juicy grins and a sense of there being goodness in the world. Little kids in particular are enthralled by the idea that they can pluck a morsel of delicious right off the vine at eye level. "Don't forget the sugar snap peas," I'll add. "Want some cucumbers?"

It feels generous and good. Everyone is smiling. I'm such a nice person. What a swell neighborhood.

Stay the hell away from my blueberries.

I mean it. That's why I planted raspberries. Look at the pretty red berries! Don't you want some pretty red berries? Pay no attention to those bushes over there.

Camilla is a raspberry veteran, at age three. Her little brother Sebastian is just learning the ropes, figuring out the difference between the red ones and the really, really red ones, his jammy mouth working under his wide brown eyes. Camilla turns her perfect face up to me. "Thank you for the rassberries," she says.

"You're very welcome," I tell her. Her mom beams. Camilla may have been pre-prompted, but she came through in adorable fashion. She fires off a string of Spanish to her mother and turns back to me with a melting smile, her hands clasped in front of her.

"Are there any booberries yet?"

Devil child. I smile back. "No, honey," I say. "You see? They look blue, but they're not really ripe yet. They'll be a lot better in a couple weeks."

And that is true. At least, it was true a couple weeks ago. Camilla looks at the laden bushes, doubtful.

I'm sorry. But this is the kind of behavior you get from someone who doesn't believe in Hell. I can't
overstate how much I like blueberries. I love birds, but if I see a bird on my blueberry bushes, I'm going to get a tennis racket and smack it into dice. Camilla toddles off with her brother in tow, and I go fetch a bucket. It's time to rescue this crop before it gets over-appreciated.

My goal is to freeze enough blueberries to adorn my daily oatmeal until next season. Shouldn't be a problem this year. The branches are drooping with fruit. They sag like an old woman in an overloaded house dress. I flash-freeze them on a cookie sheet and the berries regiment themselves on it like little geometry geniuses. But nothing beats a fresh blueberry, not even pie. I begin
filling my bucket and do a quality control check with a couple berries. I don't wolf them. I pay attention to them in my mouth. They say they are lonely. I send in a couple more handfuls for company. Then I divert all the larger ones to my mouth because they'd just mess up the cookie sheet geometry. Pretty soon it's a party in there. Blueberries always get along with each other. Before long I have an inch or
two of berries in my bucket and am lying on my back under the bush with a large funnel in my teeth
and shaking the branch above me. One fat berry bounces out and rolls away. I go looking for it just like Jesus and the lost little lamb. Yes. I am totally like Jesus. I don't think Camilla can see me down here.

I believe I might have to buy some cute little Bolivian kid a heifer now.

47 comments:

  1. Nope, raspberries for me. And I don't like sharing them either. Not with birds, not with people. And certainly not with the damn cat.

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    1. As you know, the cat is supposed to be inside anyway. Eating raspberry danishes.

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    2. Had a cat that would fight me(tooth and claw) for pawpaw. Word.

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    3. I've never had one. Never even put 'em in a basket.

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  2. So who is the photographer? Maybe next year we will get blueberries...!

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    1. Dave. Who took a picture of me in a certain light that demonstrated that I have a full, lush beard. Not shown.

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  3. The wild blueberries have been amazing in the wilderness this year. I've never seen them so thick. I share your love of blueberries and annoyed my fellow hikers while I tarried to pick and eat them. When I get started it's hard to stop! :-)

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  4. I love raspberries and we planted three bushes this year. My grandkids love blueberries; I guess we'll plant three bushes next year.

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    1. Theoretically with a mature bush you can stand in one place and pick blueberries for an hour. Mine aren't really that kind of blueberry.

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  5. Need any help with those rassberries? Got any spare zucchini? I hate blueberries. Ick. Nasty. I have a black thumb, so all we grow are weeds.

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    1. First time I ever heard anyone ask for zucchini.

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  6. Blueberries and oatmeal...Murr, you're going to live forever. And enjoy it.

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  7. I'm getting the feeling you like a blueberry now and then ...

    I tried to flash freeze those things once. Spilled the whole @#$%^& pan JUST before I reached the freezer. Never again. I admire your skill and patience.

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    1. Better than picking a bucket and spilling them out on the ground. Only did that once this year.

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  8. Best account of "blueberrying" I ever read. I've picked, and well I know that it is very darned hard to fill a bucket, what with all that deliciousness begging to fill the mouth!

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  9. Best account of "blueberrying" I ever read. I've picked, and well I know that it is very darned hard to fill a bucket, what with all that deliciousness begging to fill the mouth!

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  10. "I love birds, but if I see a bird on my blueberry bushes, I'm going to get a tennis racket and smack it into dice."

    Best visual ever!

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    Replies
    1. Dave says (NOW he tells me) I should have written "riced it with a racket."

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  11. Jealous! I don't even look at seed catalogs anymore - too many two- and four-legged thieves in my neighborhood. But when I was on vacation, I had to scan the roadside on my morning walks just to make sure any ripe blackberries weren't left to the native wildlife.

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    1. It's really the only thing I cultivate. I'm into the flowers, and it's Dave who grows the food. I feared he might not grow enough blueberries and originally planted twelve bushes. I'm down to five now but then, oh well, I planted four more this year. We'll see if they work out.

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  12. Oh man!! And now I want to eat some fresh blueberries more than ever!

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    1. You...want to eat...MY blueberries? You may have some of my blueberries. You may.

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  13. We had both this year. I love them all. But I'm not at all inclined to share the blueberries with Jesse, the five-year-old neighbor. I try to divert him to the wild strawberries. Or I send him indoors to talk to Art, who probably has a pepperoni stick to share.

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    1. Crazy thing, but what gets me is the five-year-olds just start hauling away on them, whether they're ripe or not. I feel like giving them a tutorial so we don't lose the goodness.

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  14. Blueberries and porridge is the food of the gods...and the goddesses. I love blueberries too, much more than raspberries (seeds, teeth). I don't dare plant them here. Bears and the like.

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    1. Bears...and the LIKE? What else you got there?

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  15. Me, I prefer seedless blackberries. Or cherries! I LOVE cherries! Especially in a pie or cobbler! MMMMMmmmmmmmmm!!!

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  16. Sounds like we're compatible. But I've never heard of seedless blackberries.

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  17. Mouth - watering! Mmmmmmmm......

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    1. I can't eat a good blueberry without a nummy sound leaking out.

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  18. I have a nice mental image now of you lying under the bush and funneling blueberries into your mouth. I used to give away buckets of stuff too, but not the cherries or apricots. I was a bit fussy with the peaches too, only gave away about half the crop.

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    1. The neighbor has cherries that nobody harvests and they drop into my yard and make cherry trees. And the cherry trees, by the time they're three inches tall, already have a two-foot-long horizontal woody root.

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    2. Cherries that nobody harvests?? I'm sure that's a crime, somewhere. you should put a few buckets under where they drop and make cherry pie and cherry jam.

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  19. Love me some blueberries but, sadly, their high pectin content contributes to an ongoing constipation issue. Blueberries and golden raisins with a little brown sugar over steel-cut oatmeal? Heaven!

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    1. I have to admit I'm so unfamiliar with constipation that when I do go a day without, you know, I don't even recognize it, and just feel all fat and cranky. Then it, you know, resolves itself.

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  20. I planted blueberry bushes last year and then watched in horror as deer ATE them! They also ate some rose bushes. Crazy.
    I live in the suburbs. Things like that aren't supposed to happen!

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    1. I guess I shouldn't whine about the birds.

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  21. Oh, how I wish I could grow blueberries here! I've tried a couple of times, but I guess it's just too dry, or the soil's too alkaline or something. I love your funnel image - reminds me of Hubby. He'll buy a 2-pound box and eat them all in one sitting. I like 'em, too, but I know better than to get between him and blueberries.

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    1. Two pounds of blueberries. Awesome. Yeah, they like acid soil, and we've got that for sure. I think it has to do with the rain.

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  22. Thimbleberries. It's all about the thimbleberries. Nobody eats my thimbleberries....

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  23. When I was growing up, our whole family went into the woods to pick wild blueberries day after day. It's a much more complicated process, crawling about to find the best ones under the ferns and evergreens, brushing away flies and mosquitoes without spilling one's bucket, remembering to stretch once in a while, and also trying to pick fast so you weren't the one with the smallest amount. We ate them on cereal and ice cream, in muffins and pancakes and pies, and by the handful. And then we froze about 60 quarts, which held us until the next summer. It was a wonderful way to get to know the woods, and I remember it fondly.

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