Fall was always a busy time of the year. Crops had to be harvested and the garden taken off. The house, humid with all the canning we did, smelled of dill and garlic as well as whatever crop was currently coming in.
But my favorite fall memory-- really late summer, but the leaves turned very soon after-- was blueberry picking. It was an all day adventure. Early in the morning, right after chores were done, the grain box was loaded with pails, tubs, beaches, blankets and rugs. Then my dad would hook up the tractor and leave, slowly pulling the wagon north and west, out to the sand hills.
This was when the lunch was made. The cake was iced, the sandwiches packed, the lemonade and coffee all accounted for. If we were going to stay long enough to have a fire and do hotdogs that had to be planned, too. Then my sister Janet and her husband would arrive, usually bringing Deedo Poholski with them. Everything was loaded into a vehicle, and we piled in. By the time we got to the first big mud hole that a regular vehicle couldn't drive through, the tractor and wagon would be waiting. Park the truck. Transfer all the food. Climb aboard the wagon. The trusty little MasseyHarris tractor would pull through all the bad stretches in the road, and there were a few, and then we were in blueberry country. It was crown land, all sand hills and jack pine for miles and miles. Up a hill, down a hill, around a lake, creepy little floating muskegs, country fit for bears, moose, and blueberries. Eventually someone would spot blueberry bushes, and a scout would leap out of the wagon to inspect.
Soon a good enough patch would be found, and we would park. Someone would be assigned the making of the fire, and we would scatter with our little picking pails.
I would look down at the first berry bush.
Little scruffy bushes, with dull green leaves, set about with dark purple berries, dusted
with blueberry blue haze that disappeared if you touched it. The berries were warm from the sun and sweet on the tongue.
When the pails were full we would pour them into the tub and go out again, and again.
Deedo had a different method. He went out with two milk pails. He would tramp through the hills and we wouldn't see him again until lunch time. His pails would be full and he picked clean. Only the best ripest berries went into his pail. After lunch, with time to stretch out and relax a bit, we would pick again.
Always we found muskeg cranberries, glowing red in dark green leaves, and filled a couple of containers with them, planning for chicken and turkey suppers.
The day ended in time to get home for milking. Happy and tired, we rode the wagon out to the truck, and then on home. The work wasn't nearly done yet. The berries would have to be picked clean of leaves and little sticks, and preserved by canning or freezing or making jam. There was always one dessert of blueberries and cream, and pie, too.
Sometimes it reminds me of how hard the little birds work to get their food. It costs them naught but the effort. Good food, a gift from a loving Creator.