I Kept My Promise

July 17, 2013 by Michelle

For years, I’ve been promising the wee ones that we’d go blueberry picking.  I had the opportunity to go blueberry picking once when I was maybe 11 or 12, but I chose to stay at my grandparents instead of going with the rest of my family and some friends to drive up to Michigan.  And I’ve always sort of regretted my brattiness from that day (and ok, from that age altogether).

The wee ones thought blueberry picking would be an awesome idea.  And I planned to go.  There are places in Galena that aren’t super far (ok 2 hours) or Michigan (a little further) where yes, this would be a full day activity, but that’s ok.

I had this vision of an idyllic day.  The wee ones and I would go into the forest of blueberry bushes with no one around us to disturb our joy.  The bushes would be filled with perfect berries, and we’d frolic from one to another, filling bucket after bucket with blueberries.

Bucket filled with blueberries

And yet I somehow never made it.  I couldn’t choose what farm to go to or we ran out of time doing our usual summer running around.  And four years after I first promised the wee ones that we would go blueberry picking, we hadn’t gone.  They weren’t crushed, but they have periodically asked if we can go.

Three weeks ago, I went strawberry picking when I heard another couple friends were heading up to pick.  I’d never been strawberry picking either.  It was really muddy, but we had fun.  The wee ones were slow, but we eventually filled our buckets, and the berries were like eating candy they were so perfect and sweet.  When someone bought some buckets at my garage sale last weekend and mentioned he needed them to go blueberry picking in Woodstock – about a 45 minute drive – and that the season was starting and that the farm had organic berries, I was on board.

So today, I trekked up to McCann Berry Farm (this is so not sponsored by the way) with the wee ones and a friend of Little Miss’s.  The farm is open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so even though it was a hot day, I wanted to go – or I knew we wouldn’t go at all – again.

Ready to start picking blueberries

It was a pretty cool setup.  We pulled in and stopped by the entrance where we got to choose buckets (small, medium or large) and picked up rope to tie the buckets to our waist so we can use two hands to pick, a brilliant innovation.  Another employee brought us to our assigned bushes.  For the four of us, we had three bushes we were “allowed” to pick.

Our sad blueberry bushes


After our tutorial on how to choose a berry, we set to work.  In all of.. three minutes, we had the first complaint that it was hot.  Because today was 96 and about 96% humidity, too.  Oops.

After I’d filled the bottom of my bucket, I started glancing around.  Mister Man hadn’t yet put a single berry into his bucket.  Every single one was going straight into his mouth (yay for organic berries).  Apparently we were going to get our money’s worth at least.

Mister Man sneaking blueberries off the bush

As I headed to the back side of our bush, the complaints about the heat continued – all of seven minutes into the berry picking.  I provided each child with a bottle of water to drink and a spray bottle to mist them down and keep them cool.  More complaining ensued.  A moment later, I heard a thud.

“Mister Man.  Get up!”   I wasn’t up to dealing with his drama in the heat and wanted to pick and head home in my nicely air conditioned car.  I peeked over and realized that wasn’t Mister Man.  It was Little Miss’s friend.  Gah!

She was laying on the ground, with her berries spilled all around her.  Apparently she deals with the heat even worse than I do (I don’t sweat and don’t deal well with heat so use myself as the judge of when it’s getting too hot), and she had passed out briefly.  We moved her into the shade and I poured water over her while encouraging her to drink.  Conferring with her mom, I was relieved to hear that this wasn’t uncommon (and got an unnecessary apology from her mom for having not warned me about this).  She was fine, but she was also done picking.

Unfortunately, Mister Man’s basket was nearly empty as he’d spent his time eating the berries.  And Little Miss’s friend’s basket was just about empty after the majority of her berries spilled onto the ground.  And about half those berries were smooshed from where she’d landed on them.

As we hiked back to the front of the farm, I reached for the car keys I’d left in my pocket.  Of course they weren’t there.  With all the bending and crouching to pick berries and care for children and serve water, they must have fallen out.  I sighed and continued the walk to the front where I planned to let them sit in the shade with the berries while I went searching.  As I turned back to figure out where my keys could possibly be – somewhere on this farm – Mister Man mentioned that the backpack with the water bottles jingled when he’d picked it up before.  Thankfully the keys were there.

The whole time I was paying for the blueberries, complaints about the heat continued.  Mister Man tried to climb into my car while I was paying to sit and wait for us – in 96 degree heat with my car sitting in the sun and all windows closed.  I fortunately discovered this before he managed to close the door.

So I now have … a lot of blueberries.  And I’ve already made blueberry scones and blueberry ice cream, but unfortunately I have a feeling this is the last time I’ll go blueberry picking for awhile.  At least with the wee ones.  Here’s hoping I can make enough amazing blueberry products that they’ll forget about the pain we endured to pick them!

What’s the biggest adventure mistake you’ve ever made?

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  • Alison

    I think its great that you took them berry picking. I so miss doing that. When we lived in Seattle we used to go pick everything; raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, marion berries and apples.

    I’m sure your kids will remember the trip for quite a while to come!

    • Michelle

      I love finding foods and seeing how they are where they come from – I want my kids connected to their food. And yep, they still talk about that trip 🙂

  • Tami

    I bet it was well worth the trip! =)

    • Michelle

      It was – in the end, we had fun, and I loved eating all our blueberries, too 🙂

  • Pat

    Oh, wow, you’ve been getting some intense heat! I know the humidity makes it feel much hotter, We’ve been having horrendous heat here, too, but it’s not humid. Other than the heat and the not-many-blueberries-to-take-home, it sounded like a fun trip.

    An adventure mistake? Going to the Big Cypress Swamp in the Western Everglades in July. Now I know why there were virtually no tourists besides us there. It was hot and humid and the air was thick with flying insects. We decided to stroll down the raised wooden walkway a half mile into the swamp, reading plaques along the way about its flora and fauna. I had put on insect repellent, but not my macho guys…the boys were 10, 12 and 14. They raced down the 1/2-mile boardwalk and then ran back to the car, saying, “Hurry up, Mom!!” Jerry brushed away a giant orange flying grasshopper-thing, and in so doing, knocked his glasses into the swamp. He couldn’t see at all. We searched and searched, but couldn’t find them. Finally Jerry said, “Go get the boys. They have better eyes.” So I ran back to the car and said, “Come on, boys, help Dad find his glasses.” They came, and Ben (12) found them…lying on some swampy plant life. I had started worrying about climbing over the hand rail and getting into the swamp to find them…visions of crocodiles and leeches. But all’s well that ends well! Don’t go to the Everglades in July (or August, for that matter)!

    • Michelle

      OH wow! That’s a big problem, but so lucky that you got the glasses back.

  • Tiaras & Tantrums

    Oh I think I would have DIED if a friend’s child passed out on me! What an ordeal! (PSST – I thought I was the only one with heat whiners!) poor you!

    • Michelle

      It was not fun – but turns out that it’s normal, so whew. Sorta 😉 Oddly, we didn’t go this year…

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Blueberry Scones – Tasty Tuesday!
    Tuesday, 30 July, 2013

    […] do you remember my little mention of our blueberry picking expedition?  Like I said last week, when we got home and I asked what we should make with our bounty of […]

  • Trackback from Homemade Blueberry Syrup
    Tuesday, 8 October, 2013

    […] because I had a huge bag of organic blueberries in my freezer from when the wee ones and I went blueberry picking this summer.  I needed something to do with the berries, and I needed something that I could also […]

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