Contemplative Photography & Reflections

A Blueberry Story

“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”  
-Carl G. Jung

It is blueberry time in my little corner of the world – and just in time, too! Between my mom and me, we picked and froze enough blueberries last summer to last an entire year. We rarely picked blueberries together because I live so close to the blueberry farm and prefer to pick first thing in the morning before the sun gets hot, and my mom would go later in the day. When she was done, she’d stop by my house with a hot, red face and some blueberries to share, and I’d give her a refreshing jar of chilled spa water to cool her down.

In the weeks before she died, my mom told me to make sure to use up all the berries in the freezer. I just finished her last container of blueberries about three weeks ago, and it’s been lovely to make smoothies and muesli from berries she handpicked. It’s only one way in which her kindness has lived on and continues to nourish me after her death. I still have some of her raspberries, and in my dad’s freezer there are a few remaining bags and containers of strawberries, sliced and prepared for strawberry shortcake. For the Fourth of July, I made shortcake from scratch, and we celebrated with my dad, savoring strawberry shortcake made with strawberries my mom had handpicked for that purpose. Honestly, I can’t remember ever enjoying strawberry shortcake so much!

This morning, I made my first trip of the season to the blueberry farm. Although the picking was great, I was disappointed to learn that they had to spray all the sections because this year was so wet, and there were so many insects, including some new kinds. But I picked nonetheless, hoping that soaking the berries in a diluted vinegar wash – or some other solution – would help to some degree.

Berry field conversations are always interesting. Often, moms instruct their children on how to pick good berries and scold them for eating too many. People (usually, women) talk about what they are going to make with the berries. It’s not that I try to eavesdrop; you just can’t help but overhear since people tend to have to talk with some volume in a berry field.

To keep birds away from the berries, the blueberry farm I go to plays sounds of native birds in distress through speakers mounted on poles in wooden carts. The bird sounds start up again every couple minutes or so, and it’s often amusing to hear first-timers try to make sense of them.

Shortly after I arrived at the blueberry farm this morning, a car parked next to mine, and two women got out. My guess is that they were mother and daughter, and the younger one was probably about my age. The older woman went further down the row, and the younger woman began picking close to me. After a couple rounds of bird sounds, she wondered out loud about the birds. I explained that they are recorded sounds and pointed to the speaker near us then continued picking berries.

A few minutes later, the older woman returned, complaining about how there are no good berries, and it would take all day to pick a container. How curious, for I was looking at a row of bushes overflowing with ripe blueberries. The younger woman replied that she found a great bush and suggested that the older woman look for a good one and just stay with it – and she’d fill her container in no time. But the older woman continued to complain about the lack of ripe berries. This is another typical berry field conversation. People debate whether or not the picking is good. You always can tell who is the pessimist and who is the optimist!

The bird sounds began again, and the older woman wondered out loud about them. Despite the information I gave her, the younger woman suggested that perhaps they have baby birds they are trying to protect. The older woman squawked, “Well don’t worry! I won’t bother your babies!”

Well, the bird sounds continued, and each time they started up again, the older woman expressed annoyance (“Oh, be quiet! I’m staying away from your babies!”), and the younger woman proposed theories about why the birds were making such a clamor. And it was a very loud noise. But then again, we were very close to the speakers – so close that I decided to move away in order to protect my hearing. But I still was able to hear the women’s conversation from time to time.

And so it continued for about an hour. The bird sounds began again, and the older woman scolded the “birds” for making such a racket. I heard her say, “Okay, I get it! You like to make a lot of noise!” Then the younger woman said, “I’m beginning to think they’re not real birds.” I smiled to myself and shook my head. The older woman considered, “Yeah, maybe they’re not real birds after all.”

After a few more cycles of bird sounds, they figured out that the sounds were coming from the speaker. And then for the next half hour, I heard the older woman scold the speaker each time the sounds came on: “Why do you have to be so loud? Can’t you be quieter?”

When I finally was done picking, I walked back down the row to my car and realized that the women still were picking berries right next to the speaker. In a huge, sprawling field of berries, they continued to stand right next to the speaker and complain about the sound, again and again and again. That struck me as hilarious. I paid for the berries with a big smile on my face, trying to contain my laughter, and then laughed all the way home.

We humans are such funny creatures!

It is interesting to notice what catches your attention as you go through your day. I found it so funny that in the huge berry field, the woman chose to continue standing right next to the sound that was irritating her so, without ever moving to another part of the field. WHY? Recognizing myself in the image of the two women in the berry field made me laugh because I realized the absurdity of my own behavior and attitude! I totally “got” how I do the same thing – different context, same basic behavior. And the wonderful and humorous part was that it was completely within the woman’s power to have a more enjoyable time. The solution was so simple!

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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