Big Game Berry Picking

A mother has to use every trick in the mother’s handbook to get the berries and other small fruits picked for the family table or freezer.

She must use everything she learned during ten thousand hours of board games like Sorry and Parcheesi, ten thousand hours of free form whine management in places like gift shoppes, and ten thousand hours spent taming the consumer frenzy of her hoard of teenagers.

These situations inform her work to get the berries picked by herself and her children. This is because, as with board games and scenes in gift shoppes, berry picking is all about the translation of the desire to win, have one’s own way, and eat only the berries one wants for oneself into selfless service in support of SHARING with the whole family and the needy freezer.

First, a mother must entrap the children into a confession about which berries or small fruits they cannot live without. Igniting the flame of altruistic berry picking is helped when the child has a particular affinity to the crop he or she is harvesting for the greater good.

Shocked though I was when Emily told me last week that she didn’t give a fig about blueberries, I was thrilled that she went nuts over the sour cherry crisp I made this week. Yes, I managed to make one dessert from the tiny amount of cherries that I was able to collect from our two cherry trees, those trees otherwise completely denuded of cherries by our resident birds (birds, whom I might note, were also having a hard time sharing.)

Why did Emily’s rhapsody over the cherry crisp move me so?

Because a neighbor had both a more selfless bird population and a sour cherry tree laden with cherries AND this neighbor had left me a note to feel free to pick her cherries.

I hauled a ladder down to the neighbor’s house before the ink on her note was even dry and came back with a very large bowlful of cherries. Cherries that needed to be pitted.

I was not worried about the pitting. I was smug. I was prepared. I knew exactly how to get Emily to pit those cherries for me. I had the right bribes for pitting; a dunkin donuts iced caramel latte and a computer loaded with a DVD of the first season of the OC TV show right smack dab next to the bowl of cherries. My selfless service lecture didn’t even need to be put in the queue. Ryan and Marissa did the work for me.

While Emily refused to allow me to photograph her face, I did get this shot of the action. Enough cherries for seven pies went in the freezer. Bravo Emily!


This left only blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, and black currants to be picked.

Rapsberries are not a problem. I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but I do. Come hell or high water and we have certainly have had the high water lately……


The Rasberries always get picked. I see to that.

Early this morning, before it clouded over for our daily rain, I got out there to pick the day’s ripe Raspberries. Each day I think the raspberry season must be peaking. Today was no different as I picked through the patch.

May May was in the thick of things, but I have yet to be able to harness her interest in berry eating into berry harvesting for the greater good.

Once the Raspberries were in the bag, it was time to think about blueberries, because some of the varieties we have are now ready to be picked.

I have noted that famed Tour de France rider William Sheehan’s bike course takes him flying by the blueberries.

I have also noted that he sometimes pauses with his ever hungry dog friend May May for blueberry breaks during their rides.


Give me a day and I am sure I will figure out how to translate Will’s pause that refreshes by the blueberries into a bowlful of berries ready for the freezer. Or maybe fate will intervene and fill William with the desire to pick a bowl for me without bribes or speeches about our family’s calling to become good localvores.

It’s stage twelve of the Tour de France today and perhaps William will take the polka dot jersey. All this riding around the hills of Meriden has made him good in the mountains. With a polka dot jersey or better yet, the yellow jersey on his back, maybe handing him a big empty bowl while he races by the blueberries will brings on a bout of post victory harvesting.

Picking blueberries for your mother seems like just the kind of thing a Tour de France hero would do, that and standing on the podium being kissed by a lot of pretty french women.

You’re right. He’s twelve. Standing on the podium to be kissed by a lot of pretty french women is probably a more likely daydream than imagining your mom’s smile when you hand her a full bowl of blueberries.

I think this leaves May May to help me with the blueberries. I really do have my work cut out for me.

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