Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It Was Always About Blueberries

It is a ritual each summer.  We grab old ice-cream pails, waiting until the heat of the day has passed, and employ all available hands, even our tiniest ones, to walk down into the field, and out to the patch.

It is always the same.  At first everyone grumbles.  They stall, some kids have to go to the bathroom all the sudden, others seem to completely disappear.  I am patient.  I find them.  I call them.  Eventually we all wind our way down to the end of the grassy field.

We pick during the golden hour of the evening.  It is work.  We begin with reluctance, then gradually, some kind of magic begins to take hold.  It is the light maybe? The golden hour perhaps, with it’s orange highlights that flood through the trees and cast a glow to our skin.  Or it could be, the relief of cool air that hits us after the first of the summer heat waves.  For me, it is the humbling and grateful sight of pure abundance all around us: blue, sweet fruit, teeming off of a multitude of branches.

It could be called work, but in the light, in the cool, in the sunset beauty, in the togetherness of it all, there is magic.  We are all in this together: this is our family. While other families are spending their summers at exotic places (and our kids resent this sometimes), we are out here picking blueberries.  The difference between drudgery and productiveness though, is in that we are all engaged together in the task.  Someone cracks a joke and suddenly we are all laughing, someone spills a pail and we are scooping them up off the ground.  The tallest child is called on to reach a higher branch, a competition ensues to fill pails faster, the littlest one eats her entire harvest, some berries might get thrown among teenagers. There is one kid who picks, but doesn’t like to eat blueberries at all (why is there always one?)  Some drop to the ground, so ripe they fall before they can even be picked.

We pick in one spot, exhausting all within reach, thinking we are finished, and turn 15 degrees to one side and see more.  We pick and pick.  There is abundance everywhere, and reverence for that abundance we all feel.

I didn’t want to live in this brown house.  I didn’t want a high deck with little kids.  I didn’t need a farm field.  I didn’t want a pond or a creek with littles and safety issues.  The real reason we ended up choosing this place:  It was always the blueberries.

I never get tired of them: watching them bloom in the spring; waiting patiently for the first ones to ripen, the thrill going down my spine when I walk out in the sunshine and hold the first ripe one in my hands; my big boys sneaking out quietly when they are hungry and filling their shirts full of berries.  Then there is our baby, who would not eat the fruit at first, when finally discovering their sweetness, plowing through handfuls upon handfuls till her face and fingers were blue.  Picking, freezing, canning, baking, even adding them to salads.

Then fall comes, and with it busy piles of school supplies, bus schedules to look at, and backpacks by the door.  The farm is yielding squash, dahlias, and potatoes, and the harvest is in full swing.  The blueberries then put on their most beautiful show, turning scarlet, showing their warm colors along with the golden big-leaf maples, the colorful vine-leaf maples, and highlighting our harvest.

It was the blueberries that brought us here.  They have also blessed us with memories and miracles – this abundance of family and food and life and faith I will be grateful for forever. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

On The Edge of Bloom

I have started so many blogs posts.  They are all unfinished.  It has been so long since I have written anything, and truthfully, I think I have a sort-of writer's block.  If you know me, that's pretty hilarious, since I always have something to say.  I have missed this place, my happy place, but it has been a long winter.

There are so many things I have wanted to share.  Some amazing experiences I have had, and hard lessons that I am learning.  I'll start a post, and quickly realize that because of where we are at as a family, I really can't talk about a whole lot, for the sake of my kiddos.  A lot of what we have gone through this winter wasn't pretty.  I don't like to rant, and I don't want pity, so I found myself not knowing what to say. I'd love to share a knitting or creative project, but there's been no time for that this winter, either. So, instead, there has been silence from the keyboard.   So sorry.

While this was one of the coldest, wettest seasons on record for the Pacific Northwest, I can only say that the weather has mirrored my homelife.  It's been a little ugly here, muddy, and grey, with only a few sunbreaks.  I know can only speak in parables for so long, and I hate it.  I always wish to speak straight from the heart, that is really who I am; but parables it must be, and some of you who can relate to things that I am going through, you will know what I mean! I am exhausted in every possible way: emotionally, physically, mentally.  The past few months of running around have been the craziest they have ever been in my life! 

There is a paradise of natural beauty all around me, but I'm so busy running around I don't have much time to enjoy it.  Still, I am so thankful to live out here, for after that exhausting trip to a specialist, or that school meeting, or yet another trip to the discount grocery store to feed the kiddos, or to the feed store for the animals, or another doctor's appointment.......

I'll slip outside, breathe, and look around me.

Sometimes I'll shed a few tears.

It is beautiful.

I will kneel and pray, all alone, nothing but the sounds of birds and the breeze in the air.

I will smell the sweet perfume of Lilacs and Wisteria,

and I will be so grateful for this wild ride that I am on, because it just-so-happens to be that I am at the toughest part of it all now.

It was a hard winter, and a long one. 
I have slogged my way through so much mud and rain. Wondering all the while, if all this work is worth it.

For so many long weeks here things have been on the edge of blooming.  I have been so impatient, weeding, watching, waiting.  I keep checking the rose buds and sighing.  Things are about a month behind what they were last year, and it's hard to wait.  But while the farm and garden are important, I can't shake off the feeling that my most important work, the stuff that goes into my family, is a sort of waiting too, and that these kids of mine, and the amazing people that they are becoming, are all on the edge of bloom too.

If you'll pardon the parables, there are so many days I get up in the morning, wondering if I have the strength for just one more exhausting day of all this.

But when the blooms do finally start to burst open I know:

It's gonna be so beautiful.