poetry and prose about place

small scale economy – picking berries

with 6 comments


'five blue berries'


small-scale economy


my box of berries spilled

on the footpath,

between leaves

of Kalmia and wintergreen

hawkweed and cow pies


the cousins, their boxes brimming,

stood gawking, dismayed,

I was certain they were thinking

dumb city girl, spilled her berries

box only half full anyway


instead, they gathered around me

sympathy in every hand

scooped most of the berries

into the box

added a few from nearby bushes


seventeen cents he paid me

half the value of a box at full

the cousins had picked a crate or more,

remembered the wasted berries, left on the trail

and wept at the loss



Published as: ‘small scale economy’, Canadian Stories 16 (94), December 2013/ January 2014

Copyright 2014 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

6 Responses

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  1. I love picking blueberries – my friend has a blueberry patch behind her house. It’s a race to get as many as possible picked before the birds get their share. Thanks for stirring up some pleasant memories, Jane!


    Barbara Rodgers

    April 1, 2014 at 11:32 am

  2. This brought me back to my first job, Jane. I spent a summer picking blueberries when I was nine years old. I earned $1.00 a crate, and it had to be heaping with berries. I thought I was rich at the end of each day when I got paid, and never really noticed how hard the work was because I was too busy eating my fill of berries as I picked each day. Thank you for the wonderful poem, and the reminder of a simpler time. 🙂



    March 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    • Hi Robin. I’m glad this poem brought back memories for you. I can still see those spilled berries, working their ways between the weeds and grasses, forever out of reach. I always ate more then I ever picked. Jane


      jane tims

      March 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm

  3. This is lovely. I too remember the angst over spilled berries and the loss of income because of it. A few pennies meant so much back then. This poem captures the emotions so well. Clear images, precise capture of those moments. Well done.


    Carol Steel

    March 24, 2014 at 7:33 am

    • Hi Carol. Thanks so much. The poem is one of my series on memories of summers at my grandfather’s farm. When I started to explore this subject, I was amazed at how much I remembered. Jane


      jane tims

      March 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

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