A couple of weeks ago I listened to a report on my commute about the health benefits of wild blueberries. I don’t, of course, remember exactly what the health benefits were, but I remember my reaction to the story.
I laughed out loud.
The report recommended a person eat two cups of wild blueberries a day. Yes that’s right. Two cups. Memories of picking wild blueberries sprang immediately to mind. I used to live in the Keweenaw Peninsula which is a part of Michigan waaaaay north, a piece of rocky, somewhat hilly land that juts out into Lake Superior. It’s stunningly beautiful and a place I miss in a chilly yet warmly reminiscent sort of way.
One of the things people did in the summer up there was pick wild blueberries. There was a field at the top of the mountain that rumor said had the best wild blueberries. No one talked about where it was; it was a secret held closely by the locals and I was not a local. But eventually, after living there a few years I wormed the location out of a friend.
You drove up the main road, turned off on a little used side road and then turned into an abandoned driveway that wound through the woods until you got to a gate which you had to open, drive through and close behind you lest someone notice you were there and discover the secret. Then you drove along the side of an empty field, parked near the back of the field behind some trees and you were there!
The first time I followed these directions I thought I had been played for a fool. There were no blueberry bushes on this empty abandoned land. I wandered a bit with my big pail looking for the bushes. You know, the bushes you’d find at a blueberry farm down near the towns I once lived in. The cultivated bushes, some as tall as a person covered in huge sweet berries, the bushes almost purple from the weight of the fruit.
Almost purple….hmmm….the ground near my feet seemed almost purple. Could it be? No way! There were wild blueberry bushes under my feet! They were not even a foot tall, the berries smaller than half my little fingernail. Almost imperceptible. They were everywhere and indescribably delicious, sweet and tart all at the same time.
It took me a couple hours to pick enough berries to cover, in one layer, the bottom of my bucket. After that first visit I’d take a small cottage cheese container and was lucky to collect a cup at any one visit. And those were the good days. I picked much less than that the time I ran across a bear enjoying the fruit of my favorite shrub.
So when the researchers in the latest wild blueberry study recommended people eat two cups of wild blueberries a day I laughed out loud. Obviously they have never picked their own berries; it would take half a day to pick two cups of berries. And the season isn’t that long…so you’d want to pick extras to freeze for the winter months.
Seems pretty impractical to me. But I enjoyed thinking about it, and remembering a simpler time from years ago when I spent some quiet time on top of a mountain hidden behind trees gathering the spoils of the earth.
That was a sweet and tart time in my life and I am glad the researchers took me back for a visit, if only in my own mind.