Friday, May 9, 2014


     'Tis the season. On my way home from San Luis yesterday, on the back road, there was a home-made sign advertising blueberries. Yep, must be blueberry season. I didn't have time to investigate but I am assuming that these people have a fairly large area planted in blueberries, seeing that they want to sell them to the general public. Their sign was out last year, for the first time, and I contemplated stopping then, but never got around to it.
     I like blueberries. But I like them raw, uncooked; blueberry muffins were not my favorite back in the glory days when I could actually eat a Costco muffin. You know...those wonderful muffins Costco bakes, that you can smell from a mile away, as you're filling your tank at their gas pumps? Costco does that on purpose, you know...They do live up to the sensory hype. Even the basic ones have something like 45 grams of fat in them. With all that fat, and then added sugar; what's not to love? But the blueberry ones were not my favorite. In the fall, just in time for the holiday season, they put out a pumpkin with brown sugar streusel topping. OMG! And even though I am not a chocoholic, I must admit that the memory of the chocolate with chocolate chips was pleasant. Especially eaten with a nice hot cup of coffee. And their carrot cake cup cakes...oh, wait...I digress...we were talking about blueberries.
     So, I like my blueberries fresh from the vine, so to speak. Don't mess with them. O.K. you can put them in a fruit salad but no fancy dressing!
     Before I moved to Massachusetts, when I was in 4th grade, I don't recall ever having a blueberry. They are not indigenous to the West Coast. We talk oranges out here and in the Central Valley we talk almonds and melons. So, when I got to Massachusetts blueberries were exotic, new, revolutionary. I remember the first time I ate them. We had gone on a camping trip. And in a culvert under a bridge my mother found a patch of blueberry bushes. Me, my sister and mother spent the entire afternoon picking them off the bushes; my mother instructing us just which ones were ripe and juicy. How she knew so much about blueberries, I will never know. Maybe they grow in Minnesota, where she grew up? The gardening books do say they grow best where there is a natural frost, although you can buy varieties that grow well here on the coast of California.
     Anyway... back to the summer of my childhood. We ate blueberries with cookies that night; sprinkled with sugar and topped with some whipped cream my mom purchased from the little store at the campground office. And my mom put them on our cereal in the morning. We snacked on them for the time we were camping and before it was time to go home we revisited the patch and gathered enough to take home for my mom to make cobbler. Yum!
     But for most of my adult life, blueberries came at a premium, not free, on the side of the road. So up until a few years ago, I did not reacquaint myself with blueberries. I have come to the realization that I like them as much as I did when I was a kid.
     This year, as we were making improvements to our rather large backyard, I decided to have our handyman make me a raised planter. I wanted to plant boysenberries, another favorite of mine that can be costly. About the time the planter was finished I was at a nursery and, there in front of me, stood a display of blueberry bushes. It was late in the season (they had been bare root) and were discounted to half price. I picked the best one out; they were all pretty scraggly, (think Charlie Brown Christmas tree) and took my prize home to plant in my new planter box next to the thorn-less boysenberry plant. The plant I chose had a little cluster of berries, green and immature on one of its branches.
     Every couple of days I go out and check the bush to see how they are coming along. I had a dream the other night that big black crows had made a nest under the bush. A silly dream seeing that I have a cat and no bird in its right mind would make a nest on the ground in my backyard. But in my dream they were waiting for the berries to ripen. I went out in a panic to check on the bush the next morning. All was well, but I thought maybe I should prepare for the birds and get some netting or something. Maybe the cat will keep them away. All this for a handful of berries.
     But I look forward to the day, sometime in the not-too-distant future, I hope, that I can harvest enough of those blueberries to make a cobbler. I will have to see if I can find my mom's recipe.

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