We've lucked out a lot this year – the days we choose to go somewhere to do something as a little family unit have stayed relatively sunny, or at least haven't been full of pouring rain. Amazing, considering how much rain we HAVE had this rainy season summer.
Yesterday Bill and the kids and I headed to Coventry, to Carbuncle Pond, to pick blueberries. You may remember the name of the pond from various "Opening Day of Trout Season" posts, or other fishing excursions, but it's also a great place to pick blueberries. I'm pretty sure I wrote about it last year, too.
Anyway, we set out with a couple of buckets, some bug spray and a fishing pole ("just in case"). The fish didn't bite, but the bugs certainly did, and so did a large garter snake that Bill found. No damage done by the snake, though. He just didn't want to be held.
The kids also brought butterfly nets (which used to belong to our neighbors' kids across the street until a recent yard sale), intending to catch some frogs. They're not into blueberry picking for the long haul; they just pick when they're hungry.
So Bill and I did the serious picking of the blueberries while the kids picked flowers, caught dragonflies, and Julia picked what she referred to as corndogs, but which were, in fact, cattails. I didn't get a picture. Sorry.
I did, however, get a few shots of a little dragonfly in Alex's hands.
I also, in between gathering berries, took some pictures of fallen trees and water lilies…
It was a slightly ominous day – very windy and overcast, as though the rain would start to pour any second. In fact, the wind rushing through the trees sounded like falling rain. But then, every now and then, the sun would bust through the clouds and warm things up a bit before disappearing behind some fresher, thicker clouds.
While Bill picked in one spot and I picked in another, the kids explored and hunted for bugs and frogs and ate blueberries by the handful.
The whole thing kind of reminded me of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal…the sound of the berries falling into the buckts – kerplink kerplank kerplunk – and the children eating berries instead of filling buckets at all. No bears, though, which was probably a good thing.
Eventually the kids started getting hungry, and the blueberries just weren't enough any more. We had plans to head to a different spot for a little picnic lunch after the blueberry picking, and the kids were ready to go NOW. As always, though, they were told to be patient and wait just a few more minutes so Bill and I could get as many blueberries as possible.
See, the berries that grow along the banks of Carbuncle Pond are the tiny, wild berries. Intensely flavored and darker than the larger berries, it takes a LOT of berries to make your bucket look full. And while the bushes had plenty of ripe fruit, and we'd picked a lot, it still didn't look like ENOUGH.
Eventually, though, Alex and Julia out-persistented us (yeah, I made up that word), so Bill took them around to another part of the pond to look for frogs while I continued picking as many berries as I could.
We'd poured the berries from Bill's bucket into mine, and I had that looped over my left arm while I picked. (Actually mine wasn't a bucket, really – it was the bottom portion of a large plastic apple juice container that Bill had originally used as a mini greenhouse for early vegetables. There were two sections of plastic that had holes in them, and for blueberry-picking purposes, he'd strung some heavy duty twine from one loop to the other to make a handle. He'd made two of these – one for each kid, but they weren't using buckets today, so I used one.) I've developed my own "way" of picking – I hold a major branch from the bush with my left hand and gently twist the smaller branches so that, with my right hand, I can pick the berries (carefully, so as not to crush them) and drop them into the bucket that dangles from my left arm. Sometimes I'll switch the bucket to my right arm and pick with my left hand, but since I'm right-handed, it's usually the first way I described.
And why did I even bother describing it? I mean, who cares HOW I'm picking blueberries, really?
Well, I descibed it for you so you can see how I was positioned when the tragedy struck.
Bill and Alex and Julia were on their way around the pond, hadn't been gone from me for more than two minutes, when, as I was holding a branch with my left hand and picking berries with my right, I felt the bucket slipping somehow, and before I could do anything, the bucket had fallen from my arm and I watched it – in that horrible slow-motion way that bad things sometimes happen – fall down, down, down, to where it bounced once next to an old, fallen tree and tipped over, spilling the hard-gotten berries into the mucky water.
Bill heard my strangled cry (okay, he said it was pretty loud, so it probably wasn't a bit strangled) and came running, and, bless him, he spent a good deal of time digging blueberries out of the muddy water while I – not patient enough to help much – went back to the blueberry bush I'd been working on and just picked like a madwoman. I was using the yellow bucket – actually a kid's beach pail – which had a much more trustworthy handle.
And yes, before going back to picking, I took a picture of the disaster area.
Amazingly, Bill got probably 80-90 % of the blueberries out of the muck. We also ended up with a lot of rotting pond debris, but that could be picked out later.
And it was. We went over the berries 3 times, rinsing them in fresh bowls of water as we went along.
We also found a couple of these little guys in there:
Bill fed them to the lizard.
We ended up with just under a pound of berries pulled from the pond. The weight is deceptive – there are a lot of berries; they're just tiny.
We also had about 6 ounces of non-pond berries as well, in the yellow bucket:
And another 6 ounces of blueberries and huckleberries combined from our picnic spot and the surrounding area.
So not a bad haul.
I might have picked more, but as Bill and Alex and Julia were heading back from frog-hunting, I heard a sudden wailing. Julia'd tripped over a root on the path and landed on her hand and one knee, scraping her thumb and scraping up her leg as well.
Nothing life-threatening, of course, but it was definitely time for a picnic at that point.
So off we went, toward other adventures.