Yesterday, as it was the first and last free day we had during blueberry season and disregarding threatening rain (sort of disregarding, that is, as in Bruce brought a raincoat, Kate and I did not) we set off on our annual trip to Brown’s Berry Patch to pick blueberries. Most years we pick at least enough to freeze five to six pies-worth, and the picking is easy. There is a food counter, a grill and ice cream at the “patch,” and other fresh fruits and vegetables are available and there is a bouncy pillow Kate likes to jump on and they welcome Carmen the dog, so the trip is totally worth taking, even though the Lake Ontario State Parkway west of Monroe County has weeds and grass growing freely in the interstices between the concrete highway sections and is a seriously tooth-jarring, bone-rattling experience no matter the speed of the vehicle. Totally worth the 48.5 mile drive. Really. Just the look on Carmen the dog’s face as we bump over that section of parkway is worth it. “Why am I here again, and why are you doing this to me? And we have to do this again on the way home?” as her ears shudder up and down. All good fun.
So yesterday we went. We ate lunch first as we arrived a little later than we intended and were hungry. Unfortunately lunch coincided with the best weather of the day and the rain started just as we finished our sandwiches. I bought a coffee and thought I would wait out the rain and pick blueberries after it let up. Bruce donned his raincoat and dashed off with bucket in hand. Kate settled in a rocker (oh yeah, that’s another perk of the place, six or seven rockers under a porch roof facing out toward the fields) to read, Carmen at her feet. Kate had no intention of picking anything and came along just to keep the dog company and for the bouncy pillow and ice cream.
Shortly after Bruce left us the rain increased intensity. There was lightning and thunder. It rained even harder. I texted Bruce: “Are you alive? This isn’t worth being hit by lightning, you know. And I don’t want to pay for water.” (The staff weighs the bucket we bring, and then weighs it again when we leave to determine the cost of the blueberries.) He texted back that he had taken cover under nearby cherry trees, and was waiting out the heavy part of the storm. That part arrived shortly after our text exchange. Just as Kate and I were sure it could not rain any more heavily, the skies would prove us wrong and let go more. Bruce came back 15 minutes later, soaked from the hem of his raincoat down, and with 30-some blueberries floating in rainwater at the bottom of his bucket.
He took off his coat and bought a coffee to help warm himself up. A few minutes later the rain slowed to almost a stop and I put on his raincoat and set off in search of the blackberry bushes. These are far from the dry porch, past the corn maze, then the raspberries, then the apple orchard and across a narrow
dirt mud-mired trail, and through a break in a stand of currant bushes. By the time I reached them my Keds were full of water and coated with the mud in which I almost lost one. As I picked a pint and a half of fat blackberries the rain started again. It’s a long walk back, though, so I stuck with the task until I had what I wanted, and then the rain stopped. Bruce texted to see if I was ok. He said he would head to the blueberries again and pick there, and I agreed to meet him. By the time I walked back past the currants, through the mud, past the apples, raspberries and corn, however, it was pouring again and he had run back to the porch. Now he was soaked from head to toe.
I met him at the porch, the rain let up, I gave him his raincoat and we set off to pick blueberries one last time. Our luck held out, and we picked enough to have a pint of fresh berries to eat for a few days as well as a quart to freeze for a pie. And that will be all this year unless I buy more at a farmers’ market in the next week. Just know that if I serve you a slice of blueberry pie between now and next summer, you can count yourself as one of the very special people in my life!
We also bought a couple quarts of peaches, and when we returned home I baked our annual summer-is-waning, blackberry-peach pie. Mmmmm.