And every summer, I want to suggest to the people at the front desk—which is actually a card table set up with a register at the entrance of the farm—that they add a scale in order to weigh the children on their way in and then once again on their way out.
It’s a pay-by-the-pound pick, you see, and I am absolutely certain that my kids—especially my youngest this year—gain at least 3 pounds from shoveling those blueberries straight from the bush into their faces no matter how many times I yell, “BUCKET! Into the BUCKET!”
I try to warn them that there won't be any blueberries left to make blueberry muffins when we get home, but the last time I said that, my older son looked up at me with those huge brown eyes and said through a mouthful of blueberries, “Promise?”
Okay, so the last time I tried to bake something wasn’t exactly what you’d call a success.
I feel like there are two types of people in life: those who can bake and those who, no matter how hard they try, pull a godforsaken sunken-in, mushy pile of shit out of the oven every single time. That last kind is the kind I am.
Anyway, I never actually offer up my scale idea to the people in charge, because I’m a tightwad and I’d rather not drive the prices up. Because let’s be honest, folks: Blueberries fresh from the bush are probably the healthiest things my kids will eat all year. BY FAR. And I don’t want to eff that up.
The last time I brought my boys blueberry picking, my scratchy man voice must have really carried as I screamed “BUCKET” down at my blueberry-stained boys. Because from a few rows over, I heard a cheerful, singsongy voice call out, “Is that Shay I hear over there?”
I recognized the voice immediately. It was my friend Lana and her son.
“It is!” I called.
Since I didn’t hear anything else for a little bit, I got back to the idle chitchat I’d been having with my sons in between the “BUCKET!” calls.
“I really feel a kinship with these tall bushes, buddy,” I said to my older son. “Like a sense of responsibility to pick the blueberries at the very top. I’m 6’ tall. A lot of other people won’t be able to get to them, and then those berries will die, you know? It’s not fair to let them perish just because they’re tall…”I didn’t realize I had so many unresolved issues about being a tall woman until that very moment. I didn’t have time to dwell on it, though, because I was stopped short by what my son responded:
“Yeah, Mom, and that’s a sexy one.”
“What?” I asked, letting the top branch go and looking down at my son. “A sexy what?”
My 5-year-old son used his little hand to shield his eyes from the sun in one of his usual grown-up type mannerisms as he looked up at me. He nodded toward the top of the bush. “A sexy blueberry bush. It’s got all of those dark blue, thick berries…”
I was considering making him an appointment at the child psychiatrist’s office in town when I heard Lana’s voice pipe up from the other side of the blueberry bush. I hadn’t realized she’d come to join us and was picking on the opposite side, listening to our whole conversation. “That boy,” she said with a laugh in her voice, “is definitely going to go into agriculture.”
We both laughed, but through my chuckles, I had to ask myself WHY: Why is it that I always jump to the worst-case scenario? Like, instead of being devastated because my kid called a blueberry sexy and he obviously has a blueberry fetish and needs help NOW before he starts banging piles of blueberries as a teenager, I could maybe just smile and say, “How sweet. He’s obviously going to be a farmer because he appreciates the beauty in nature.”
I still kept a close eye on him during the rest of our time picking, though. Nothing inappropriate went on, so I figured we were cool.
After about an hour of picking blueberries, the boys and I returned home to find this in the freezer:
A 3-pound bag of frozen blueberries that my husband had picked up on his last trip to the grocery store.
My hubs. He never fails to be a smartass, even when he’s not even trying.