when pulling a ripe berry off the branch, there should be no effort. the berry should surrender to the picker easily. sometimes i'll pull one off and notice a bit of fuschia under its skin and i can't help but mourn the berry that it could have become the next day. and sometimes when i pinch that perfect berry - fat, shiny, navy - i have to eat it right away. mmmmmm.... sometimes, there are so many berries dangling on the ends of the finest twigs that i just need to hold my basket under the branch and gently curl my palm around the cluster, dragging and guiding the ripest, readiest blueberries into my basket waiting below.
i pass hours picking. sometimes alone, sometimes with family, sometimes with visiting friends. my niece came up to sunapee with us for a couple of weeks. she couldn't get enough of the berries. i'd pick for 30 minutes and carry the basket into the kitchen. within 45 seconds my berries would disappear. my niece has been renamed "berry monster".
one day after the berries quickly disappeared i asked, "where'd my collection go?" my 6 year old SG said, "PG drank them." "huh? what do you mean? she drank my berries?" SG picked up a nearby bowl and demonstrated the art of drinking berries. yup, that's about right. down the hatch.
i've also been in a heated battle for the past several weeks with a rowdy flock of blue jays nesting in the yard. the noisy bastards wake me up every morning with their reindeer games. they harrass the playful nuthatchers, steal eggs from the sweet sounding robins, they tease the woodpecker as he patiently pecks the old ash for bugs. they squawk and careen and divebomb my blueberry bushes all day long. clowns. even though i harvest the berries twice a day, there is still enough to tempt the damn jays. i turn my back and they immediately swoop right down and clean out my bushes. schmack! schmack!
you can tell that i've really enjoyed berry picking this summer. all the more reason for me to be protective of those bushes. my husband's like, "let those poor birds have some of our berries. we have plenty." and all i can say is, "they can eat them when i'm not watching. or they can find their own at five bucks a pint!"
so lately, when i catch the damn blue jays pigging out in the bushes, i send the kids out to chase them away. XG runs out and hollers, "get away blue jays!" the girls sneak up and ambush the birds. they're pretty good at it now. SG's efforts were even rewarded with a perfect blue feather.
this was my reward that morning:
|(i told you we have a lot of berries!)|
blue jays are just the tip of the iceberg, though. there are several animals jockeying for food in the yard. we have three resident groundhogs. all named miss tiggywinkle, they are often seen eating clover in the lawn. my husband caught one in a paint bucket while it was feasting on bib lettuce in my mom's garden and i was devasted to see it relocated to a cranberry bog in the next town over. my parents, on the other hand, said, "one down, two to go." i guess i should be more understanding considering my feelings about those damn blue jays.
we also play host to porcupines, a red fox, about a hundred wild turkeys and the occassional black bear (they like to climb the apple trees and gorge themselves on honey crisps til they fall out and puke on the lawn). last week, i even saw a mountain lion cross the street, about 1/4 mile from our house. i can only imagine what he's eating, especially since i haven't seen the usual deer family in the meadow this summer. regardless, it's pretty amazing. and a sign of a healthy, thriving eco-system here in the sunapee region of new hampshire.
it's a wonderful blessing to live so closely with nature. the wildlife, the food - such wonderful proof of the extraordinary gifts this earth has given us. as much as they drive me crazy, i'm even grateful for those damn blue jays. and i'll secretly hope that they cross paths with that new big cat in the neighborhood. ;-)
peace, love, gratitude,