Once every year or so, Sally and I pack up for the night and head to the South Shore of Lake Superior. I get enough of the cold and sterile North Shore, where fog creates the forests and the soil is thinner than a Perkins pancake.
We went for a concert at the Big Top Chautauqua (Los Lonely Boys), but we stayed for the blueberries.
Years ago, as we climbed the flanks of some Montana mountain, Sally quoted Garrison Keillor, "California is the girl you want to date; Minnesota is the woman you want to marry." So I married the Minnesota girl. Which is a roundabout way to talk about the South Shore versus the North Shore. Except sometimes I worry I "married" the wrong shore.
We picked berries at the appropriately named Blue Vista Farm. a few miles up the hill from Bayfield. The berries were insanely, pornographically plump. They were like a California actress with silicon implants.
I like to believe that the wild berries we pick on the North Shore make up in flavor what they lack in plumpness. You have to fight for North Shore berries. You beat back the bears and the bugs. You pick for hours and are delighted to have a quart of pea-sized morsels. Like the orange you tuck away in your Duluth pack for day four in the BWCA, the berries taste better because you worked so hard for them.
South Shore berries have a longer growing season, richer soil, and the loving attention of the farmers. But even the wild blueberries I've seen come out of the Iron River, WI area are bigger, happier than our North Shore fruits.
Plump and bland, or wizened and tasty? Easy picking or hardship conditions? Reward or challenge?
California or Minnesota?
South Shore or North?
For a moment this weekend, I was totally satisfied with the South.