Over the weekend, we had glorious weather, and nothing scheduled to eat up all our free time. Since the spousal unit and I had recently discovered a listing of U-Pick farms in the area, and since it seems to be the peak of blueberry season, off we went in search of blueberries.
You may recall that last year, we picked blueberries by the bucket in the parks around us, for free. But that was in New Jersey, and now we’re in north-central Florida. The u-pick farms are definitely not free. That said, the one we chose was amazing! I mean, really, really amazing. It was about a half-hour’s drive out into the country, past horse and cattle farms that dwindled into stands of planted pines, and rutted driveways leading off to hidden homes. And eventually, down an unpaved, compressed-sand road to another, narrower unpaved road. Without any breeze, the sand barely clouded up at our passing.
After parking in the grass, we filed into the shoulder-high rows of fairly narrow blueberry shrubs with the other folks who’d come out for picking. Voices rang out, and happy laughter, and the occasional crying child. But there was more than enough room for everyone in the sunny, flat field. And enough fruit, as well.
The berries were in clusters thick enough, and oftentimes large enough, to be mistaken for grapes. And while some were still ripening, there were so many luscious ripe blue-black beauties that it was easy to fill both your bucket and your belly in a short hour. Indeed, it turns out we picked nearly 12 pounds of fruit! Most of it we froze on cookie sheets, then dumped the frozen, individual berries into freezer bags (so they’ll separate easily later). Some will become jam, some will be turned into blueberry scones, muffins, pancakes, pies, or even blueberry syrup.
So, um, just saying that, if you come over, don’t be surprised if blueberries are on the menu.
In writing news, I’m hot on the trail of what’s probably the most complicated short story I’ve ever tried to write. It’s for a contest, and I have until next weekend to finish it. There is no prize other than bragging rights (and of course, a finished short story to sub), but it’s a total blast to participate. Wish me luck!