Anyone who knows me personally is well aware of my love affair with strawberries. I am certain I inherited the "strawberry gene", handed down for at least four generations. I am always the first and last customer at the local berry stand. This year alone, I froze a whopping forty eight boxes, not to mention the thirty six I ate. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating!
When the beloved strawberry season draws to a close, I always feel a bit of sadness, which is quickly replaced by excitement and anticipation. While I can thank my mother's side of the family for the "strawberry gene", my passion for blueberries comes from my father's blood lines. Many moons ago, my father and his mother spent their August days picking wild blueberries in the bush of Northern Ontario. In the company of black bears and swarms of black flies, they picked in order to preserve a supply of this summer treat for the cold Northern winters. For those who have read Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal ...there is a lot of truth to the story of the bear!
So, with blueberry season in full swing, I packed up the kids, hit the road and headed for Blueberry Acres in the Annapolis Valley. Joining forces with Nanny and Graga, our crew was able to accumulate thirty pounds of berries in about an hour. Chi-Chi picked with great intensity and contributed half a bucket to the cause. Muffy picked with great intensity and contributed not a single berry. He did, however, fill his big growing belly to the very top! Have you ever read Peter in Blueberry Land? Honestly, I felt as though I had shrunk into a gnome as the berries were almost the size of small apples and so delightfully tasty!
Remembering those childhood summers in the bush, my father wondered aloud what his mother would have thought of our modern day blueberry adventure - a ride in a cushy air-conditioned bus to the field, berries the size of small apples and not a single fly in sight. Ok, I have to admit, I feel like a bit of a sell-out picking cultivated berries (though it was great fun). I do plan on taking the wee ones on an excursion to pick the wild variety. There is something to be said for "real" blueberry picking and the act of foraging the forest for nature's candy. I certainly want Chi-Chi and Muffy to grow up knowing how to seek, identify and enjoy the real deal.
Our bowls and bellies are not the only things filled to the brim with blueberries lately. Our reading list has also taken on a blue tinge. In addition to the previously mentioned titles, a favorite at story hour these days is A Whole Day of Surprises in the Adventures of Broughton Bear series written by Nova Scotia author, Susan Atkinson-Keen. I'm always on the lookout for local children's books and this series in particular is both engaging, interesting and informative.
Our schedule for next week includes yet another trip to Blueberry Acres. Let the berry binge go on I say. Milk it while it lasts!