The other day while chatting with my friend Lisa, she informed me (in delighted tones I might add), that on Tuesday her husband and son were leaving on a trip and would not be back until dinner time. Let me first say that Lisa lives and breathes for her family, and has spent the best part of 20 years catering to their every need (as well as being a full-time working artist). However, the thought of a day alone, and I can relate, filled her with giddy anticipation of what she might do!
When your life is busy with raising a family, and working hard, a moment alone becomes a rare occurrence. That feeling of chaos before everyone leaves the house, and then, the door slams, and nothing, no sound; what a moment! I am sometimes left on the other side of the door, listening to the silence and thinking of how my regard for being alone before having a husband, and children was nil. I may have even though being alone was not a good thing, and possibly meant I was depressed or friendless; I don’t remember, the way I don’t remember why I actually though I was busy when I was single and childless!
The only way to have that feeling of peace nowadays is to get up before everyone else. I used to think that early risers were mad, and somehow overly fastidious. Now I know a more accurate read is; getting up early, even if it means suffering from sleep deprivation, gives me the modicum of quiet I need before I face the noise of the day.
So, Lisa had not just the morning, but the whole day to gad about. She asked if I would like to go blueberry picking in the early morning before it grew too hot to be outside? It had been ages since I had done something like that. It seemed more like a holiday activity, or something one did when there was nothing else to do! I wanted in on her free time, and said “yes!” (along with my two kids of course!).
We arrived at a fruit farm about 10 miles from my house at 8am with our berry buckets in hand. It was a beautiful morning with remnants of the cooler night temperatures still hanging in the air. I had never seen a blueberry bush before (yes, I have been very deprived!), let alone a whole field-full. The leaves are a deep, smooth, glossy green and the berries grow in clumps, like grapes. We were greeted by an elderly man in overalls and he pointed us towards the best rows for picking this particular day. And so, off we headed down a path thick with bushes, leaden with blueberries.
Lisa was a total pro and told us to leave our bucket on the ground and pick with two hands. I thought my kids would get bored (especially my son who likes to move from one activity to another every 5 minutes or so!), but I was dead wrong.
I walked a couple of steps ahead and decided on a patch worth picking, and they hung back with Lisa who loves to tell stories about her childhood, and, my kids clung to every last syllable. Most kids I know can’t get enough of information like this. I think they are fascinated with the thought that this grown-up used to be a young boy or girl like them, and the first hand accounts of how they filled their days long ago connects them in a special way. They no longer see them as what they think they are destined to become; serious, responsible, always-know-what-to-do adults, but as people who like to have fun, make mistakes, and get into trouble just like them!
As the hour passed more and more pickers arrived. The bushes were so high and dense that my only glimpse of other people was the brim of a sun hat, or a hand with an adventurous reach. There was a low din of other conversations, but I felt sure we were having the most interesting one.
We picked until our containers were full to the top, and then went to a little shed and had them weighed. I never thought about what I was going to do with the berries until our buckets tipped the scale at 12 lbs – yikes!
I am now up to my eyes in lovely purply-blue berries and on a mission to make lots of things I have never made before. Stay tuned!
I don’t know what Lisa did for the rest of her day, but I’m sure it was something on the lines of; make lots of stuff with blueberries, weed the garden, work in her studio, clean the house, and make dinner in anticipation of the weary travelers. This might all seem hum-drum, but, doing all of this alone must have felt like she was in heaven. Or maybe, she sat on the couch all day, eating chocolate covered blueberries watching Jane Austin movies – she’ll never tell!