poetry and prose about place

an afternoon in the blueberry field

with one comment

blueberries ripening

One of my favourite places to be is a blueberry field.  Nothing is better than lying on your back between islands of blueberry bushes, watching clouds build in the sky and munching on newly picked blueberries.

When I was young, I spent lots of time picking blueberries with my Dad, in the pasture behind my grandfather’s farm.  I can still see his hands deftly stripping berries from each branch, and hear the staccato ripple of berries filling his pail.  My picking was considerably slower and less productive.  In my pail, the berries spoke in single plinks, each separated by several seconds of silence.

Later, when I was a teenager, I went once with my Mom to pick blueberries on our neighbour’s hillside.  My berry picking skills had not improved and I know I ate more than I picked.  But how I wish I could spend, just one more time, that afternoon with my Mom, picking blueberries on a sun-washed hill.

Today, I pick blueberries every summer, in the field near our cottage. Since I am usually the only one picking, I now aim to be efficient.  Sometimes I use my blueberry rake to strip the berries from the branches, quickly and with little waste.  Of course, this means picking through the berries by hand, removing leaves and other debris.  But the ripe berries are still blue and sweet, and plump with the warmth and fragrance of August.

This poem is in remembrance of my Mom and our afternoon of picking blueberries:


Bitter Blue

of all the silvery summer days we spent   none so warm   sun on

granite boulders   round blue berry field  miles across hazy miles

away from hearing anything but bees

and berries

plopping in the pail

beside you   I draped my lazy bones on bushes   crushed berries and

thick red leaves over moss dark animal trails nudged between rocks

baking berries brown   musk rising to meet blue heat

or the still fleet scent

of a waxy berry bell

melting in my mouth   crammed with fruit   sometimes pulled from

laden stems   more often scooped from your pail full ripe blue pulp

and the bitter shock of a hard green berry never ripe

or a shield bug

with frantic legs

and an edge to her shell

Published as: ‘Bitter Blue’, Summer 1993, The Amethyst Review 1 (2)

© Jane Tims

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

Written by jane tims

July 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

One Response

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  1. What a lovely memory, Jane! I love the phrase…”I draped my lazy bones on bushes”…

    It just so happens that this weekend, I picked the first blueberries from my own recently purchased field…my own slice of heaven in Albert County. No blueberry in a box will ever taste as good as the ones we pick ourselves.


    Deborah Carr

    July 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

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