For the past four years, the children and I have made an annual pilgrimage to the blueberry fields to pick blueberries. The heat of late Spring, air thick and heavy cut through with an occasional blessed breeze, and the lazy drone of buzzing bees greet us in the fields. We know that our hour or two of labor will be well-rewarded in the meals ahead. And if our energy and resolve wane (which it occasionally does), a handful of blueberries popped into our mouths always picks us up.
This year, with little time to research, but needing respite from the tedium of unpacking our belongings, I searched the internet for a nearby blueberry U-pick. I found one quickly, but it was hours away from our home. Surely there had to be something closer.
One thing I’ve learned in all of our moving is that there is just as much to do in the rural areas as in the cities. The only difference is that you have to work a bit harder to find it. There just aren’t clearing houses of information on the internet that allow for “one stop shopping” so to speak. The local newspaper, word of mouth, the occasional flyer in the grocery store window, these are still the main methods of communicating culture. It works for the locals, not so much for the new kids on the block.
Undaunted and imagining a year without our homemade blueberry preserves and frozen morsels of goodness from the freezer, I persisted with my internet search. I was going to find blueberries in central Louisiana, whether we got to pick them or not. Playing with search terms, I finally found the magic combination that produced a Facebook page for Gulf Coast Blueberries near DeRidder. I called the telephone number listed. They were open. They had blueberries available. But no, it was not a U-pick.
Fearing that we would miss out on the Season’s bounty, I reserved multiple gallons of berries and scheduled a time to meet them at their “yellow barn”. When the children and I arrived, the wind was blowing in anticipation of a passing shower. The owners were friendly and encouraged the children to run out into the field, pick some berries and, of course, eat them on the spot. As the shower came and went, we huddled under the shelter of the barn and chatted. We made new friends.
So while we didn’t get to spend hours in the field this year, we did get to spend an enjoyable hour with wonderful people. The children did get to eat berries straight from the field and we did get to make a year’s supply of blueberry preserves and stock our freezer for winter! We also got to enjoy our bounty with an evening meal of blueberries and biscuits.