Monday, June 29, 2009

When You've Got It, Flaunt It

~ An article written for the June issue of Moonshine online magazine.~

A few mornings ago I took my daughter on our third blueberry-picking trip of the season. Less than ten minutes from our house is Lundy’s Blueberry Patch, a little plot of heaven on earth where Doc Lundy (a retired veterinarian) offers beautiful blueberries to the picking public from late May through mid-July.

“The blueberries are waning now,” Doc Lundy warned us, “but I think I saw some good ones out on row 57 and 58.”

I smiled at Doc – knowing how blueberry spoiled he is – and said we’d take what we could get.


Ha, ha, ha!

Rows 57 and 58 may have been “waning”, but the bushes were still heavy with ripe, blue fruit. Hundreds of gleaming indigo orbs smiled at us as their juice-filled weight pulled branches down toward my pre-schooler’s eager little hands.

Abbey and I picked till our fingers were blue and our tongues deep purple. (Doc encourages his customers to “sample” while they pick, and we wouldn’t want to be rude . . . so we “sample” with abandon.)

Each bush had dozens of ripe berries on it because folks never remember to grab the berries from the shady center of the bush, where they grow extra fat and sweet. I don’t blame them for this, though, because a) there are so many berries on the outside of the bush to keep you busy picking and b) that means other folks leave the center berries for me.

I try to pick each bush thoroughly before moving on to the next, but most often a particularly rotund little sapphire will catch my eye on a neighboring plant and off I’ll go like a butterfly – fluttering blissfully and hungrily to the next pretty flower.

My daughter and I compete for who can find the biggest berry, all the while I’m smiling to myself between popping berries into my mouth, savoring the sweetness of the sun and fresh air, the trill of birdsong, and joy good company. (Abbey, though not quite three, has been known to pick over a pound of berries all on her own.)

Then, on the way out, my pink-cheeked and glistening little girl will turn the parental tables on me – it’s her turn to cajole “Let’s go! Hurry, hurry!” because I’m going slow, trying in vain to pick all of the berries I missed on our way to the end of the row.

The prices at Lundy’s are incredibly low and I always feel we should have picked more, even though blueberries and countless other gorgeous fruits and vegetables are available at rock-bottom prices at our weekly farmer’s market.

But that’s not what gets me. The part of the whole experience that really gets me is this: abundance.

Blueberry bushes are the definition of abundance.

Nature’s abundance is, perhaps, her greatest gift to us in summer. An abundance of flowers, of fruit, of vegetables, of animals, and, most profoundly, of light and color.

Summer is the time when Mother Nature is showing us that she’s got it and she ain’t afraid to flaunt it.

I say we use those extra summer hours of light to capture and reflect this glorious abundance, fullness, and ripeness. Though I remain the tree-hugging, reduce-reuse-recycle conservationist, I say that now is the time to use more paint and bolder colors. Take more photographs, create more sculpture.

Let your summer art be full and abundant, rich, bright, multi-hued and sparkling with the joy of nature’s annual promise fulfilled.

In fact, here’s a suggested color palette: Eggplant Purple, Rhubarb Magenta, Watermelon Pink, Strawberry Red, Georgia Peach, Bell Pepper Orange, Cantaloupe, Lemon Yellow, Banana Pepper Chartreuse, Cucumber Green and, of course, Blueberry Blue.

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