Monday, August 4, 2008

Lessons from the Blueberry Patch

My In-Laws love to go picking for whatever fruit is in season, whether it be blueberries, strawberries or apples in the fall. My Mother-in-law does it, and my Sister-in-law does it all the time with her kids. Last fall she took her kids apple picking, and I said to my husband that it seems like a great way to get kids excited about eating healthy foods.

Until this past month, I had never been picking for anything. Well, a very long time ago, I think my Grandmother may have taken me strawberry picking, but I barely remember the experience. My parents never took me picking. I’m not really sure why. I think it may have been because my Dad worked hard enough at his job that he didn’t want to do that on the weekend, but I’m really only guessing. It may actually be my Mom who was afraid of the work, because she once told me that she never bothered sucking the meat out of the tiny lobster legs because she doubted it was worth the work, but others have sworn that is the best meat of the lobster; you get more than what appears, and what is lacking in quantity, is made up for in quality. Enough about the lobster.

On to the blueberry picking… My husband shares my parent’s lackluster enthusiasm for picking, but I had always wanted to visit the blueberry farm in our neighborhood, and I finally convinced him to go. He agreed if for no other reason than economics. Picking blueberries is much cheaper than buying them in the store. At the farm where I go to pick, it costs $5 for a huge bucket that appears the size of a 39 oz. coffee can. No grocery store can beat that price, even with sales.

Being the nerd that I am, I was reminded of some valuable life-lessons from the experience. Here’s what I noticed:

You Have a Limited Window of Opportunity
Where I’m from, the season is the end of July until the beginning of August. You only have like a few weeks at most to pick blueberries.

The Honor System is Alive and Well
Where I go, you pay by the honor system.

You Must Get in There
While I was picking I noticed if you went further behind the branches up front to the hidden branches behind the leaves, you get some great blueberries. I heard a lady a couple of rows down from me say to her friend, “Everyone always picks the blueberries upfront, but look at all of these blueberries deeper into the bush that few people see.”

When You are Near the Top of Your Bucket - The Longest Leg of Your Work Has Begun
The time flew when we were filling our bucket. Before I knew it, I realized my husband and I only had about an inch left from the top. I noted my excitement to my husband, and he said we have to fill it to the very top to get our money’s worth. Filling that last inch seemed to take as much time as filling the rest of the bucket.

Despite Your Best Efforts, You Will Lose a Few Berries
The place where we go provides these blue buckets, but you must return them. While we were transferring our berries to our take-home container, despite our best efforts we dropped some.

There, my life lessons from the berry patch. I plan to take my daughter picking for many years to come.