505 Blueberries Per Quart

Day 84 of 365

After my second quart, I announce “There are 505 blueberries in this quart!”

“Is that all?” Ron hollers from across the field. I don’t know why that man is never impressed. I thought he might say, “Wow! That’s amazing!” He never says things like that. I don’t know why I imagine such things in my mind.

“Yeah, well, I got lucky with some bigger blueberries early on and filled up the bottom of the quart super fast!” I holler back.

I suppose counting blueberries is what one does on a hot day in August when your kiddo, who is usually with you to complain about the heat and the wasps, is at summer camp. Today, it was just me and Ron and the heat and the blueberries that were three sizes smaller than last year. I felt a little lonely. I felt a little bored, I suppose. So I counted blueberries.

We pick blueberries at a farm that lets things be all natural. It’s in the middle of nowhere. You have to watch for bears. And they don’t/can’t water their berries. The berries we picked today were so much work, so much smaller than in years past. Apparently, our county in Maine is not officially in drought, but we are not far away from one. Ron is starting to worry about the well. But, for today, we just focused on the blueberries.

We eat a lot of blueberries all winter–in oatmeal, muffins, and I am determined to try them with quinoa this year–so we stock up on local blueberries every summer. But today’s picking was tough. The berries were so small that it took at least twice as long to fill up a quart as it did last year. I take that back, I would say three times as long.

And some of the bushes just had no berries at all. I was a little panicked at first, worried we wouldn’t get our quota of berries, which are extra important since the birds ate all of ours, though truly, our bushes did not make a lot of berries this year either. But I found a few generous bushes. I was so thankful to them as I picked. Sometimes, I just said it out loud to myself as I plucked the berries. “Thank you for this one and this one and this one. Oh, and especially this big one.”

I also learned to follow the wasps to the good berries, though not too closely. I have been stung before. Miraculously, though I had a few close calls, I did not get sting today.

Somehow, we managed to pick ten quarts, which will go a long way toward our quota but will not quite make it for us. I have a friend who sells wild blueberries though, so I am going to write to her and see if she has any boxes of the wild ones left. My fingers are crossed.

Just as I was about to start my last quart, an older couple (of course, I realize as I write this that my husband and I are pretty much an “older couple”) pulled up next to the car as I was heading toward the car to leave a quart in the trunk and pick up one more empty carton. They were kind.

“Did you leave us any berries?” the man asked. I told him it was a tough year, but I told him the spots that were better. His wife was disappointed.

“It’s the lack of rain,” I said. “It’s been a tough year.”

“And I guess they can’t water way out here,” she said.

“Right, right,” I said.

“Last year, the berries were jumping into our cartons,” the man said.

“I know. It’s a lot more work this year, but they’re there.” We all reminisced about last year’s berries. Last year, we started the growing season short on water. It was looking like another drought, but then the rains came and came and came. We had so much rain late last year, after begging the rain gods for it for months, that we had carrots rot in the ground from all of the water. The blueberries loved it though. Oh, how I wish for that rain again.

Every single day, Ron checks the weather hoping for rain. Every single day, he complains it’s not coming.

Right as we had to go pick up our son from camp, I came upon two great bushes of berries. As we walked toward the car, I saw the woman.

“Right here, there are two great bushes with good berries, kind of middle of this row and then another right across from it,” I told her.

“Thank you! I’ll check it out,” she said.

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