Saturday, September 20, 2008
My sister told me about a blueberry farm in this city where we live. She sounded very enthused about it and prodded me to go blueberry picking too.
"Come on, boys," I told Gabriel and Markus. "Let's go blueberry picking." They were uninterested. "Mom, just get from Superstore," they said. Unable to pluck them from the computer, I went by my lonesome.
Following my sister's directions, I drove down to 152 St. and turned left on Colebrook Road leading to what appeared to me as a mere open space. I was about to make a U-turn when I saw a structure from a distance. The sign said River's Bend Winery. This is it!
I hadn't been to a winery before. I went inside the small building expecting to hear people working and machines running. Instead it was very quiet and there was only one lady inside. But then it was a Sunday.
"Do you still have blueberries?" I asked.
"Sure! Have you been here before?" the lady replied.
"No, this is my first time. Where's the farm?"
She led me outside and pointed to the farm's direction. "Just go straight and you'll see a road there," she said.
I didn't know I had to bring my own bag so she gave me a box. There was something else I didn't know--what a blueberry plant or bush looked like.
When I saw neat rows of vines, I thought that was it. However, the fruits were all green and in clusters. These look like grapes. Or are these blueberries? How come they are not blue? Or are blueberries harvested green then they turn blue? Or maybe there's more down the rows. I was totally confused.
I walked and walked. Not seeing the familiar blueberries I get from the Superstore, I phoned my sister. She told me the blueberry farm was after the grapevines. Imagine the shock on the storekeeper's face and what she would be saying in her head if I came back with a box of green grapes instead of blueberries. What a dumb woman! Hahahaha. She'd be too nice to say that out loud.
The lady said there was a road, but maybe she meant a path. I followed the path to the bushes. I didn't recognize that area to be a farm. It seemed unkempt with lots of tall wild grass. There was nobody else there. I was alone.
Remembering what my sister said, I walked further towards the back of the farm because the bushes closer to the road had been harvested and were fruitless. Finally I saw a bush with three blueberries. I was very excited. Yes, blueberries!! Now I was sure I was in the right place. I immediately picked one and ate it. Yes!! Encouraged, I walked further on, maybe 200 metres from the road.
When I saw bushes with lots of fruits, I got even more excited and gathered them hastily. I gobbled them up just as fast. For the first several minutes, I ate what I collected in my box, then started over. I took lots of pictures with my phone too that I can't download to the computer. (The pictures here were taken by my brother-in-law.)
I could not contain my great delight, I called up Gabriel. "GABRIEL, YOU ARE MISSING THIS. THERE ARE LOTS OF BLUEBERRIES!!! I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!!!," I said.
"Mom, you are screaming!" Gabriel complained. I tried to tone down a bit.
"Now I'm whispering. There are LOTS OF BLUEBERRIES!!!"
"Mom, you are still screaming!"
I went happily about. It was so quiet. All I could hear was the sound of the wind, the swaying grass, the occasional light planes flying over the farm. And me talking to myself. This is sooo gooood!
This farm reminded me so much of my mother's hometown of Laguna, Philippines and the plantations that my buddy and I walk through or trespassed. It also made me pine for my grandfather's orchard on Mt. Makiling which we frequented when I was a child. Nostalgia....
I moved from bush to bush staying close to the edge of the main path. I did not venture further inside for fear of snakes and other creatures. Then I realized I was alone. If there was a perv hiding in the farm I'd be an easy target... No one will hear me even if I screamed... These bushes are taller than me... I can run and leave my harvest behind... Fear started to rise in me. I shushed it with a mouthful of blueberries in between prayers.
I was blueberry picking for about one-and-a-half hours. It was very relaxing. I thought it was a great alone time. I enjoyed myself tremendously. What a way to spend a bright and windy Sunday afternoon in such a tropical ambience.
I filled up half my box. It was getting heavy and the afternoon was getting late. I went back to the winery and paid $13 dollars for the 13 lbs. I collected. What I ate was free. "This is so much cheaper than the ones you buy from the store," I said. "That's because you work for it," the storekeeper replied. For me it wasn't work at all. It was a relaxation, an nice escape from work. Almost therapeutic.
"Next time I'll bring my boys," I said.
We finished the last of the blueberries last night. We ate them plain and frozen. "Like ice candy," my sister said. 13 lbs in 2 weeks! I thought we would have some till the winter.
The next time I go blueberry picking I will take the boys along. Now that they've enjoyed having a supply in the freezer, they might be willing to tag along just for the experience. Maybe they'll find it fun. I'm not sure if I will find it as relaxing, but I can go with fun.