Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I went to get blueberries yesterday evening.

Jean went with me to pick them up from the Jack K's, whose beautiful home is far off the beaten path. "You have to have a pioneer spirit to live out here," he told us when we met him in the orchard.

They had cleared a mile and a half of trees for a gravel road to be laid, and it wound through the isolated countryside. You would have thought you were in another country, France maybe... Small areas had been mown with one roll of hay here and one there, the harvest of the economical little pastures. I wanted to see the blueberries, and we drove to the orchard. They are about the height of grapevines but are not supported by trellises or wires. Two vehicles were parked at the side of the orchard and we could see two people in the trees, picking berries.

We drove on up to the house and rang the bell, knocked, and couldn't get anyone to the door. There was a mailbox on the back of the house with a sign above it: "Pay for berries here," with a sign pointing down to the slot in the box. (Nice that people can still do business this way - on trust and not even have to be there for a handshake!) "Is there a container that looks like it was left for you?" Jean asked.

There wasn't, so we decided to drive back down the hill to the orchard. We drove up to the little sports car as a man was coming out of the trees with a full bucket of blueberries. He was tall and lean, had on khaki green shorts and a shirt buttoned once, as if in haste, just to keep the horseflies from stinging, and hiking boots and thick socks. He looked so much like his dad.

I told him who I was and what I'd come for. Evidently my message didn't get relayed or was forgotten. "Well, here's a gallon I just picked," he said. "You can have them." I had some gallon Ziploc bags in the back of the truck and he carefully poured the bright blue, still warm berries in it - and it was a full gallon. "How much do I owe you?" I asked. "Ten dollars." Which I gladly paid. Store-bought berries are about $3.50 for maybe a cup and a half! And I didn't have to pick these, though that would have been a chiggery experience, and I guess I didn't really want to enjoy it that much! His two big dogs stood by patiently; I paid, we said our thanks, and we drove away down the one-lane gravel road. There were pieces of old farm equipment, a rusted gas tank, side roads meandering around the little pastures through the woods.

Pioneer spirit, indeed.

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