My very first job was picking blueberries.
Each June- the first week, old man Harper would set up plywood signs and announce to the town that he was, in fact, selling blueberries. The bushes were planted in neat rows to the side of a huge barn that housed chickens, turkeys and ducks. To get to the blueberry patch, one followed the signs off the highway, onto the county road, off on another county road, up a hill and down a dirt road. Then you were there. As far as a kid could see there were blueberries.
We were paid 50 cents a pound back then for picking. Around 7 am we'd shuffle into the barn, grab two tin buckets, and hoof it to "the patch". I always walked farthest from the barn and away from the other kids so I'd have an untouched row. By 9 am, I'd meander back to the barn with my full buckets, dump them onto a screen and sift out any bugs, leaves, twigs and small berries, and weigh my haul on an ancient scale. Then it was back out to the patch. Every afternoon when I got off work, I'd drink a cold Dr. Pepper and squish my eyes shut, seeing only blueberry bushes. My 12-year-old self thought that was cool.
I think I made $100 a summer. Something like that.
Those memories came back today as I needed to do something with the blueberries in my freezer. Here it is, nearly June, and I live 3 miles away from the old Harper farm. The family's dead or gone now and as far as I hear, no one's picked berries there for years. Maybe I'll drive out anyway just to see. I don't exactly need the berries, but I am curious...
Do you guys make jam? Fruit spreads? Anything of that nature? I'm hearing great things about some of the books that say: yes, you can make a lot of the things you buy at the store. Books such as Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and The Homemade Pantry: 101 Things You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. I'm forever fascinated with growing and making things myself. Think I'll give some of these things a whirl.
But first, the blueberries. Time to see to them. It is nearly June, after all....