Apparently, I am very good at blueberry picking. I always try to challenge myself to take joy out of things that I’m not good at but it is undeniably more enjoyable what I have a god-given knack for it. Yes, even if the talent is for something as insignificant as this. I like blueberry picking. It reminds me of a socially-acceptable version of my bad habit of picking at my split ends. Maybe I have a natural inner energy that tells me that my hands should be busy, and in the absence of berry patches and weaving looms, my productivity displaces itself onto the ends of my hair.
When we arrived to the patch the first rows thrilled us- so many blueberries! My sisters started plucking immediately. A berry here, a berry there, pluck-plunk-pluck-plunk. I stood beside them, looking down the aisle. Why have they paused already? I wondered. For though I could not see it, I felt certain that there would be more berries farther on. I called out “A fool is she who will accept what is nearest rather than what is best.” “In matters of the heart?” they wondered. “Yes. But also in blueberrying.”
So we carried on together, skeptical but eager, toward those not-nearest bushes and were richly rewarded with beautiful lush branches, busting jauntily in all directions only a few rows deeper into the patch. The sweet right round things were first a thrill just to fondle and pick, but also a delight to taste, until the bucket never gained in bounty because each berry went directly to the mouth. The harvest was rich. The pluckers heavy with effort and fuzzy with pride, needed not go far. Their trophies dangled before them on generous eye-level thornless branches.
On a single cluster, the berries don’t all ripen at the same pace. A meticulous plucker may make their fingers into little tweezers and select the specific orb of choice. Their bucket will be rather empty but filled with only the finest fruit, a monochromatic mound. A wiser plucker will wrap their palms around the cluster and tickle the outermost berries, which are necessarily the largest and therefore ripest. In a fraction of time it takes her counterpart, she will have collected a handful of near-perfect blue doodads. There will be some reddish ones and some squishy ones, but why should only the bestest blobs be bucketed? The more expeditious berrister likely prefers a well-rounded and democratic contingency anyway.
Mom asked how the berry picking was going. I replied “fruitful” and actually tricked my pun-loving sarcastic self into a moment of reflection.
We have been here way too long. I have approximately 6 ½ pounds of berries. I am sure that I have exposed myself to poison ivy in my relentless search for more off the good stuff. How characteristic that I would find a way to make this tame pastime somehow perilous. It is time to go but even as I say the words I am still plucking, still searching the tall bushes. There are still more left! There are still more to be gotten! How can I leave when the berries remain?
I have eaten so much and am in such a deeply altered state that the blueberries seem to become toxic to my entire bloodstream. Maybe I ingested pesticides as I ate the unwashed handfuls. Maybe I had overtaxed my digestive system with such a heavy mass of berries: 8000 sugar pellets- go! But most likely it was the medical candy bar that was percolating my every molecule with its hum and its buzz and its hazy throb. So hurts it high. My body shook and I threw up. Purple bleary everywhere.