Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blueberry Picking



          Blueberry picking….the ultimate July experience in the Willamette Valley.  Our valley is packed with farms—berry, vegetable, fruit, nuts, wheat and oats, mint—and many have farm stands and u-pick sections, but, everyone agrees, blueberries are the best. They are tasty, there are lots of subtle variations in the flavor, they have a long season, and, best of all, there are no thorns to dodge while you pick.  I went out to pick earlier this week, armed with two large Nancy’s yogurt containers (just enough for a pie, with some table nibbles left over) and a bucket.
            In was a warm, sunny morning and the place was hopping. Everyone picks early here, to avoid the mid-day sun. A little breeze blew across the fields.  I wandered  to the far corner, searching for the perfect combination of ripe berries, loaded bushes, and quiet.  I started to pick.
 Plonk, plonk, plonk. The berries landed in the bucket as I stripped them from the laden branch. Nearby, two college kids discussed the relative merits of small, but flavorful, berries versus large, easy to harvest berries.
              Plonk, plonk, plonk. My bucket began to fill. In the distance, I could hear a small family picking. Two women  discussed the merits of various elementary schools in Corvallis (a preferred topic in our town), while their kids ran around eating and picking. As always, one small boy was on the constant look-out for the biggest, ripest patch and called everyone over every time he found a new one. “Look at these!” echoed over the fields.  “Don’t eat them all,” his mother admonished.
               Plonk, plonk, plonk. My mind drifted from the deeply philosophical to the pragmatic. Picking berries is one of those perfect occupations that require just enough of your brain so that you can think. A pie. Dried berries. A bowl for eating…is there enough to can as well?

        
        Plonk, plonk, plonk. The big bucket was filled. Onto the pie and traveling containers…I tucked the bucket into the shade of a bush. Cars hummed by on the secondary highway near the farm, creating a quiet background sound. The family left. It was only me and a few other serious pickers left, the people who pick fifty pounds for the freezer and eat our local berries all winter long on their cereal.  I could hear their berries hit the bottom of the bucket as well. “Good picking this year,” someone comments. “But early,” someone else replied. Climate change hung in the air for a moment, but we all brushed it aside. It was warm, and sunny, and the blueberries were ripe.

Blueberry Pie

Make a double crust.

Six cups of blueberries
1/2 cup of sugar
peel of one lemon
3 T flour
pinch of cinnamon

Mix it all together and pour into crust. Either weave a lattice top or use a small cookie cutter to create an attractive top. (Stars or hearts work well.) Back in 350 oven until bubbly.

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