|Organic blueberries ready to be picked, Shari's Berries, August 7, 2012|
The gray funky feeling stayed with us for berry picking. Shari herself met us at the gate and immediately started apologizing for the picking conditions. Maybe you want to come back Saturday, she suggested. Maybe the berries will have ripened up some more. Maybe it won't be raining then. "Production's down about 40%," she had warned on her phone message before we even got there. Finally, "Are you okay with the horses?"
But we persisted through the funk, just like we'd driven through the rain; after all, we'd already committed half a workday to this, and we NEED a few gallons of blueberries in the freezer to get us through a winter of muffins and pancakes. So we headed out with our gallon ice-cream pails (thanks to our teenage sons for emptying those out for us).
Compared to scavenging for wild blueberries, the picking was fantastic. No poison ivy, handsome horses snorting, and the berries were 2-3 feet off the straw-covered ground.
Compared to a normal season at Shari's or other pick-yer-own farms, it was, well, about 40 percent down. Very few places you could plop your rear on a bucket and pick a few quarts just within arm's reach. It's nearly impossible to fill a gallon bucket picking just one berry at a time, so we were almost strolling through the bushes to find clumps of berries together.
An hour and a half later, we'd each filled our buckets. These lovely organic berries were only $2.50 per pound and will fill out a lot of Sunday breakfasts and school lunch muffins.
We left with our treasure, feeling pretty good about ourselves, drove back down Homestead Road, and sure enough it was still raining by the Lake. Funky.
Go on, pick your own berries
There is still picking coming up at Duluth-area berry farms. Call Shari about possible picking this weekend, (218) 834-5221. Blackbirds and Blueberries, near Cloquet, will have some weekday picking dates coming early next week.
Music to pick by
How about the track "Funky Blues" from Charly Parker?