Saturday, July 12, 2014

How to Pick Blueberries

{An excursion in sweat, berries, and ant bites}

Arm yourself with a deformed milk jug, some tunes, and a belt. (This is to fasten your milk jug fashionably to your waist.) Wait until the heat of the day so that the berries are especially enticing and your picking standards are low. The berries will taste better because of these factors, anyway. 

Begin. Tell yourself that you're only going to pick the perfect ones so that you won't have to sort them later. Tell yourself this knowing full well that your arms will get tired and you'll eventually start picking any berries you can reach (and bending the branches of the ones you can't reach to your submission). Pick only the berries that fall willingly into your hands. Do not tear the berries from their comfy bushes until they are ready. They only require gentle coaxing: no yanking.

Curse loudly when you realize you've been standing in an ant pile for a total of ten seconds and they have already conquered your feet. Continue to curse loudly as you proceed to sprint, trying not to drop any of your precious berries, to the water pump that's always too far away. Breathe a sigh of relief as the water finally comes on, and remind yourself that your insistence on wearing Chacos for every adventure is ridiculous. (But you'll keep wearing them loyally, anyway.) March squashily back to your row, a little shame-faced. Feel better when a fellow volunteer or Partner tells you that they did the same thing, just minutes before. 

Reward yourself with berry breaks to remind yourself why you're out here in the middle of the day, slick with sweat, covered in new ant bites (that will remind you horribly of your acne-ridden teenage years), and exhausted. 

Repeat: it's for the berries. It's for the community. It's for mornings where there's blueberry cobbler for breakfast. It's for sticky fingers and full bellies. It's for the joy of sweet, sweet summertime.

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