Tuesday, July 15, 2014

berry picking

There is a blueberry farm, Berrybogg Farm, about half way between my parents' house in New Hampshire and ours here in Maine.  We discovered it a few years ago, and have returned every summer since.  There is something about the distant parking lot and the quiet walk through the young woods of birches into the farm stand and then farther along another path, emerging into an enormous field of large and berry-laden bushes that I love so.  

We always talk more than we pick while we are here.  And try to put more in our cartons than we put in our mouths.  

And eventually, the kids pick themselves out, and then I find them sitting and chatting quietly under the bushes.  Discussing the best picking techniques, which bushes have the best tasting berries, and why every once in a while you come upon a patch of black blueberries.

 Collapsing into found chairs and benches. 

The adults find it hard to leave the berries behind, picking right up until we know that we need to stop or some child is going to lose their patience, and then we still pick just a few more.  Having cooled themselves a bit, and now refreshed, the kids begin to play tag and hide and seek in the field.  Such a perfect place to run and hide.

Eventually, we grownups pull ourselves away, and head back to the farm stand.

One of my favorite pictures of Julia ever was taken here in the shadows of these blueberry bushes years ago, when she was a toddler.  In the picture she is chubby legged and curly haired and sitting on a rock.  

from Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

She is bright pink cheeked and sweaty and clearly very hot.  And looks a bit ready for us to go get some ice cream.  Which I am sure we did.  Soon after.

We have our own blueberry bushes at home, and they are actually from Berrybogg Farm.  But they are young, about thigh high.  About as tall as Julia was in that picture.  I find myself noticing the kid's height in the pictures, how much closer to eye level with me they are getting.  Nicholas is very close to me in height now.  I think I have another inch or two.  But looking at these pictures, I am noticing that Julia is also getting up there.  They will all pass me at some point, just as I did with my mother.

These familiar bushes, that we pick from, hide under, and run amongst.  So tall.  How long until our little bushes at home have this height, provide shade and a full crop of berries, and rows to run down.  Our children are growing along with them. How tall, how close, and where will they be when our bushes are this high?

Delightfully, their playing in the field is still childish, and going here is something each of them is still as excited to do.  It brings out their goofy silly carefree sides to be here.  Not to mention that the berries are delicious.

As we left, I laughed as I saw Julia sneakily snagging berries from the cartons from behind Jonathan.  

It was her best impression of Sal from Blueberries for Sal.  May berry picking always be in their lives, no matter how tall they may be.

from Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

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