Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blueberry Blurb

Blueberries have never been terribly high on my list of favorites. Nothing against the blueberry...we've just never been very well acquainted. Until lately.

It kind of started when someone on our homeschool e-loop mentioned a U-Pick Blueberry patch near us. The patch just happens to be very near the head waters of the Wacissa River; about 7 miles from our house. Getting hot picking blueberries, enjoying fellowship with friends, then taking a nice cool dip in the frigid, crystal clear spring waters of the river sounded intriguing. THEN, I read in a magazine that I could lose 5 pounds a week eating yogurt and blueberries for breakfast. Even more intriguing. I was ready to go!

Well, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know the blueberry picking didn't happen as planned. However, knowing my recent interest in blueberries, Mr. Fix-It found out that we have neighbors with a big blueberry patch, just up our dirt road, who will let anyone pick as many blueberries as they want for free! The only trade-off is that this patch has not been tended for many years and we have to be very watchful for snakes. [Let me be clear: My opinion of snakes is that the only good snakes are dead snakes. With that in mind, living in the country has taught me that there are beneficial snakes (i.e., oak snakes, rat snakes, corn snakes, King snakes, etc.) that are helpful because they keep the critter population down, thus keeping rattlesnakes away. Because of this, I won't kill these snakes...anymore. But I refuse to consider them good!]

So, early Saturday morning, dd and I set off for the blueberry patch up the road; having endured the extremely zealous lecture from Mr. Fix-It regarding his mandate that we must be ever vigilant in watching for snakes with our every step.

As we approached the patch, we observed five other cars parked alongside the fence-line. None of them familiar. Having never been to this particular patch, thus, not knowing the "lay of the land," I was not overly-excited about dealing with strangers in my blueberry picking attire (hole-y jeans, old shoes, ragged shirt, baseball cap and Publix bag). Yet, we forged ahead.

Long story short, we met some delightful folks from the other side of town who picked here each year. They happened to be retired homeschoolers having finished their academic journey with their children. Many of the other pickers were current homeschoolers from a family of whom I know the Mom, but not the children. The time went very quickly. We picked and picked.

We did have one run-in with a snake. It was a skinny, green Grass snake about 18" long. It was not on the ground. It was actually making it's way through the bushes, down the row of trees. It kind of startled us at first; it didn't really scare us. We even enjoyed watching it's prowess in gliding through the branches. Our new friend, the retired-homeschooler lady, was NOT thrilled. She kind of freaked out when we told her it was headed her way. I confess that I did kind of enjoy teasing her when I walked up, pointed right over her shoulder and said "Oh! It's right there!!!!" and she jumped and screamed--even though the snake wasn't anywhere in sight. (In my defense, I grew up with all brothers who delighted in scaring me...it's their fault!)

Between dd and me, we picked nearly a gallon of berries within an hour. This seemed quite enough for me. But the main reason we left the patch was because dd kept whining about how great it would be for her just to ride her horse up the road and pick the blueberries while sitting on his back. Over and over I listened to this... Finally, (since I thought we had enough picked) I gave in and we headed home. After arriving home (2 minutes later!), she decided it was too hot to ride. Wonderful.

After cleaning the berries, dividing them into bags with 2-cup portions, and into the freezer; I felt very satisfied with my morning's work. I left several bags out so that I could make a couple of cobblers. (A fresh Blueberry Cobbler was the one condition my dd insisted upon in return for her labor in picking them.)

I searched the web for recipes and found one that I thought would work for my purposes, then I made two cobblers. One for our family and one for my Sunday School class. I love to WOW my SS class with my very rare homemade treats. (They say WOW because they know me and know that cooking is just not my forte'.)

Yummmmm! The cobblers were delicious. We saved one cobbler for our family; shared the other with my SS class, then took the left-over portion to our dear friend, Mrs. Becky, since she wasn't well enough to come to church.

After sharing some of the bags of blueberries with friends and eating many blueberries ourselves, I realized we didn't pick nearly enough blueberries. So, another foray into the blueberry patch was quickly planned for Monday morning. Yes, dd rode her horse; I drove.

I had invited many other homeschoolers to share in the fun...but only one family joined us. No parents. Just kids and teens. They scattered throughout the patch, so I was relegated to picking alone...singing out loud to ward off the snakes. [Note: Singing doesn't actually scare off snakes...stomping does...but I didn't really feel like stomping.] Actually, picking alone under the shady trees was quite enjoyable.

Mr. Fix-It stopped by for a few minutes on his way to a job. He picked and picked and picked. None of them went in my bag. They all went into his mouth. (He likes blueberries and pretty much any other fruit or vegetable right off the tree, bush or stalk. His favorite thing is to walk through a garden, pull corn off the stalk, husk it and eat it right then and there. Yeah, sounds gross to me too! But he likes it.)

By the way, the horse thing didn't work very well. She spent more time trying to get close enough to the bush to pick. Her horse was very impatient. She got off and tried to pick while letting him graze. That didn't really work either, because the horse kept nudging her into the bushes! LOL!! He'll be tied up to the fence on our next trip!

In the past week, I've come to love blueberries. After researching the health benefits, I like them even more. I haven't lost the 5 pounds a week...yet -- but I've come to love blueberries!

I've enjoyed sharing blueberries with my friends so much, I only have a few bags left in the freezer! This cannot be!!! So... I'm going blueberry picking again tomorrow with my neighbor and her grandkids. If you're in the area, you're welcome to join me--I promise not to tease about the snakes. I probably won't even sing. Maybe I can pick a couple of gallons...maybe that will be enough. Probably not.

Stay tuned.

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Kelley said...

Oh, I am SO jealous. Very, very jealous. I love blueberries yet can't afford the $10 per lb price that comes with them here (they must be imported). I'd love to come pick some for free yet can't afford the trip itself:-) Enjoy them and eat some extra for me!

Meg in Tally said...

I wish I could send you some, Kell! I've been trying to get your mom, Wonder Woman, out here to pick...to no avail!

Kelsey said...

You are so lucky! I adore blueberries!

Mama Weso said...

Why should I come and pick blueberries when you promised me some from your freezer??? Are you renigging on that offer? My kiddos would love the "swim" part that follows the "picking" part. Maybe another day . . .

casabellabella said...

Are there still a lot of blueberries left on those bushes? We went to Wacissa again yesterday to pick more and their bushes were well picked. I like to have several gallons in my freezer to last me until next picking season. My two youngest like to eat them right from the freezer. I prefer them in blueberry muffins. Yum!

Kara

Joan said...

Blueberries now sound really good! I wish we had blueberries like that. They are so expensive at the store. The snake story reminded me of our exchange student that hated spiders but wouldn't kill them, instead she would put a bowl over it and leave us a note asking us if we would kill it.