Sunday, July 18, 2010

(Almost) Blueberries

 I have been stalking the woods behind Target for about a month now.  By stalking I don't mean walking through them and  discovering the land; I mean watching, spying, creeping up on, etc.  I noticed last fall that the pine forest behind our local Target has an understory of blueberry bushes.  Like, the whole forest floor is blueberry bushes.  So I have been mostly patiently waiting to see if they would fruit, (they did!) and now I am waiting for them to ripen.  I have missed quite a few seasons of wild edibles since I started learning.  Many plants have a really short season, so it doesn't take much to just miss it completely.  During the winter, when you're curled up with a field guide, cross referencing that with your recipe books on wild edibles (anyone?), you start to get exited about this new thing you will try in about nine months.  You see your plant emerge in the spring, maybe flower, or start to get berries, and then someone gets sick, or you go away for a long weekend, and--poof--just like that it's over and you have to wait an entire year to try out cattail pickles. 
I will not be making this mistake with the blueberries, believe you me.  So, I have been stalking them like a jealous lover.  No, wait. Let me think of something less creepy...I have been watching them like a careful mother.  That's better.  I have been tenderly keeping an eye on them, watching their buds turn to flowers, the flowers turn to round, green fruit, watching the green fade away to a deep blue, and the blue turn dusty and delicious.  When I was there yesterday I climbed up the embankment and, huzzah!, they were ready.  I emailed my blueberry picking posse (that's right, I have a blueberry picking posse) and told them to meet me at the Target at 7am if they're ready.  It's just as well no one was, because when the little one and I got there with two buckets, some water, peanut butter sandwiches and a wagon, it turns out that only about twenty or so berries were actually ready.  And we ate them. 
It is a little early for blueberries.

Because I hadn't actually gone into the the woods yet, I could only see the berries on the edge that get a little more sun. They obviously ripen faster, and the bushes under the cover of the trees are behind about a week or so.  That's cool, I don't mind waking up at 6am on a Sunday morning. 
It wasn't a total loss, though.  We got to explore the woods, finally.  The land used to be a farm, so there is an old cart path down the middle of the area.  It ends abruptly at a fenced in water run-off for the Target.  Probably, when they built the building they had to provide for all the water that would no longer be able to seep into the ground because their parking lot was on top of it now.  There seems to be a way to go around it and presumably the path starts up again.

I couldn't explore that this time with the little one in tow. The area we were in was about 400 feet by 200 feet, but the other side of the run-off pool is much bigger.  It's really cool to be in woods that aren't a state forest, conservation land or a park.  It is someone's property and will most likely be a Panera Bread some day, but for now it's just "the woods" and that feels pretty old-timey. 
 Can you see the Target Red?  
I wish I could tell you that my little one was in glory for being in the woods, surrounded by blueberry bushes, the warm morning sun filtering through the trees.  I mean, I guess I could tell you that anyway, but it would be a lie.  The whole time she was saying things like, "I tired of walking, Mama."  Or, "We go home now?"  And even, "I tired of standing and sitting and walking, Mama." To which I replied that those are the only things she'll ever do excepting lying down, so she'd better get over it now.
 Can you see her?  She's that tiny orange speck with the mane of curly hair in the sea of blueberry bushes.  Doesn't she look like such a little nature child?  Well what you can't hear her saying is, "CAN WE GO HOME NOW, MAMA?!"

She did stop occasionally to eat a blueberry or watch an ant, but on the whole she was pretty cranky.  I think next time I will just bring the big girl and see how that goes.  We eventually made our way back to the wagon and headed out into the parking lot again. 

Looking at the parking lot and shopping center through the woods while I try to get food to eat kind of makes me feel like a little animal who's environment has been encroached upon.  I think about the fact that this property (which is for sale) will someday realize the financial dreams of its owner and become something worth while.  The blueberries, wintergreen, sassafras, and whatever animals live there, will be churned under or driven out.  After that, when it becomes something "useful" people will notice it, and forget what was there before.  Maybe it will take long enough to sell that chunk of land in this economy for my kids to have memories of trespassing on private land to gather the blueberries for their summer and, hopefully, winter enjoyment.  Maybe my kids can have the more and more forgotten experience of saying, "I remember before that was a Lowes, my mother used to take us blueberry picking there."

1 comment:

  1. Love it! If that was me and my little one out behind Target, I am quite sure we would have had the same experience! Oh wait its going to be NEXT week! You write a good story, I accually enjoyed reading about your the bits of comic releif!