Blueberry Time!

That ripe, succulent season is here again.

Driving out from Metro Vancouver towards the Cascade Mountains, a popular summer escape route for city people, one gets to pass through a blueberry paradise. On the farms stretching along the highway as far as eyes can see, little bushes in orderly rows are laden with clusters of blue berries. Pop-up sale stands entice the travelers to stop and try many tastes of the bountiful harvest. If you happen to be a blueberry lover, it’s a heavenly time! 

After this introduction, it would be hard to pretend that I am not one of them. I love blueberries and enjoy their abundance to the fullest, picking them, eating them, baking with them and preserving them for sustenance through long, wet and cold winters…

This year, curiously, the blueberries made it to my lace work as well. In a surprise commission, I had an opportunity to imagine a happy chicken. I took an inspiration from a touching story of a rescued chicken who, in his new adoptive home, enjoys, and demands, fresh blueberry snacks…

Once I had a design in mind, I set out to find the right beads. I was lucky, because in Preciosa’s range of glass beads there are gems of blue and purple rounds with opaque satin finish that closely resembles blueberry’s delicate bloom.

What a joy it was to make little blueberries and then add them to the stems among green leaf tallies! I savoured the slow work, and while my hands were creating one berry and one leaf at a time, I let my mind to wander and ponder…

The musing took me back to my childhood, to the very beginning of my blueberry passion. Every summer, my family – otherwise culture and sports loving city folks – rekindled their gatherers’ instinct and roamed Western Bohemian countryside in search of sweet berries. The memories of fragrant forests full of singing birds and buzzing insects, dispersed light falling though the tree canopies, and the tangy sweet taste of wild blueberries are so vivid as if it all happened yesterday. Another impression reminded me of a joyous discovery of Canadian native blueberries in the Coastal Mountains, large berries that grow on bushes so tall that harvesting does not require kneeling or crouching.  Fast-forward to an unforgettable conversation with a wise woman, First Nation Elder from Northern British Columbia, whom I asked about the regional berries, and her list of nourishing wild edibles was so long that we ran out of time in our precious chance meeting. Yet another thought of witnessing the harvest of farmed blueberries, and the fact that in order to be mechanically collected, they have to be ripe, and therefore healthy, unlike many other commercially produced fruits nowadays.

While the lace bush was growing in my hands, I realized that the blueberry connection, while being very simple, is also deep and profound. In Canada, a country old and young at the same time, people still struggle to find common ground. Yet there it is:  simple goodness of a humble blueberry that everybody can agree on – from the aboriginal peoples, through generations of settlers, up to modern day farmers. It has strucked me as rather amazing. 

But maybe it’s not, maybe we truly need to simplify things and return back to basics to find the common thread of life, in order to understand and appreciate each other.

Maybe it is that simple – blueberry simple – to live and share, to gratefully accept gifts from nature and pay back with our gifts. To receive and to give, to love and to respect, to learn and to create.

Even if it is nothing more than a little lacy happy chicken…

2 Comments on “Blueberry Time!

  1. What a joyful chicken and the blueberries look good enough to pick!


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