Follow the shade in the morning for as long as you can,
Hopping down the row, down the hill, from bush to bush.
The way the sunlight falls through the hedgerow and the trees above, it
Leaves some shady splotches and then some sun-soaked bits.
In the morning, if you follow the shade you'll stay cooler.
And you'll spend less time bent over picking in the sun
With your shirt climbing up your back,
Leaving your lower back exposed.
The blueberry patch is a battlefield this morning.
The birds have pecked away at least half the berries on the first bush, the second bush.
I continue down the hill to the third bush and then decide that following the shade is a better idea.
And so I jump several bushes down.
Luckily, these bushes seem to have fewer damaged berries.
At the crest of the hill, it is difficult to leave anything remotely blue on the bush
Knowing that each berry could and will be the next victim.
Look at those beautiful handfuls of big, blue berries.
Find the ones the birds have pecked.
Pick them all
And put the pecked ones in the freezer bin,
The full ones in the larger box.
Sit down wherever you can.
Remember that you're not moving on from this bush anytime soon.
There are so many berries weighing down its big, leafy green branches
That your back will hurt if you stand to pick them all.
So, sit down.
You'll find it is shadier when you hide behind one side of the bush.
You'll find it is easier on your back to be sitting.
You'll find reaching for the berries is more comfortable than bending over while holding up your weight.
Beware, the ants.
Do not step on their congregations as they will protest fiercely,
Bitting your feet or your bum, whichever landed in their domain.
Do watch where you sit. The ants are nasty when they bite.
It is an unpleasant surprise if they do.
Put sunscreen on your lower back.
I know, it sounds silly, but as you're bent over the bushes
Your shirt will climb up your back, wanting to know what you're up to,
And the sun will slide in and leave you toasted, sore, and red.
Bring your shorts,
Ones that can get stained with blueberry juice and squished bugs, squished worms, and maybe the grass or the wood chips.
Bring your sun hat,
Your water bottle,
A big cardboard tray,
And two pint-sized containers.
One for the red berries,
One for the freezer berries,
The big tray for the market berries.
You will grow accustomed to the music of the pie tins clinking,
The ribbons humming,
The birds chirping,
And your fingers, and arms, and wrists, and hands rustling among the leaves of the blueberry bushes.
And pick with me.
Pick the blueberries.
Yes, these ones.
So plump and full and round.
Some of the bushes are strained beneath big berries, on others, the berries are small.
But, all the same,
There are blueberries to be picked.