One summer, several years ago, I had a very crappy summer job. I think we have all had those jobs where we thought, "Surely work won't be like this all the time!" Some days, I would literally show up to my job, and my boss would tell me they didn't need me, and send me home. There is a whole story there, but all you need to know is I spent the summer trying to make as much money as I could so that I could buy gas to drive to work and be sent home about ten minutes after arriving. What did I do? Well I grew up on a farm, and I was living at home, so I became a kind of farmhand. I picked blackberries and blueberries and sold them. It was a long, long summer, but it was really critical to my personal growth.
That has to be one of the worst sounds in the entire world! The "plunk" of a blueberry hitting the bottom of an empty bucket. Deafening. For a long time after that summer, I didn't really like the taste of blueberries. I knew what work came with them. There is no fast way to pick blueberries, unless you have big hands. Let me let you in on a little secret: My hands are tiny! Seriously! Josh tells me all the time! I have no way to pick a large clump of blueberries in a single grab!! So I pick them slowly. Typically in clumps of three, maybe four. I started that summer by nibbling blueberries as I picked, but I later realized that was cutting into my profits. And my time!
Not only do people like blueberries, but so do birds and bees! Birds and bees eat their blueberries for free and bees do not like to have their blueberry treat interrupted by someone who is trying to steal blueberries from them. As someone who is very allergic to bees, I really did not enjoy fighting them for berries. I had to outwit my competitors. My strategy? Wake up before the bees! I spent most of that summer with my alarm set for 4:00 a.m. With typically almost two and half hours to sunrise, I normally could pick a gallon or two before I started competing with the bees.
Like I said, that was several years ago, but last weekend when I walked out to the bushes to pick two quarts for me and Josh, it all came flooding back. Especially with the deafening "plunk!" The dismay of tiny hands. The buzzing of busy bees. Everything. Life lessons smack you when you are least expecting it. God has a way of taking small moments and making them bigger than we could ever imagine. During this hard summer, I could only think about how desolate I was, and how much I hated my stupid job! Now, I laugh at how the cows would "help" me pick blackberries, and how my dad's coworkers bought blueberries from me because the genuinely wanted to help me out. I had to ask my parents for gas money on more than one occasion so that I could drive to work, and I have to laugh now that I went in for a job and came out with something totally different. I somehow wound up on as a marketing adviser for a political party that I did not agree with, and I did a pretty good job. I look back at how I learned that I could sell and market, something that I am doing now. While all of the bad of blueberry picking comes back, so does all of the good.
Picking blueberries is peaceful. You are able to focus on what is going on in your life. As I was picking blueberries, I was thinking of wedding plans, vacation ideas, and reviewing the weekend and its many adventures. I was thinking of riding on the boat, and the message given in church that morning. I was thinking about life, and, while my nimble fingers slowly plunked the blueberries into the buckets, I was thinking about making blueberry treats for my love. I was also composing this blog in my head, but that's not important! Picking blueberries give you a chance to take a step back, and relax. I had a high school boyfriend one time that would come to the farm to pick blueberries, just for fun.
Josh and I are counting down the days to when we can come home for good. We are eager to be back closer to our families, and start building our own farm and lives. Together, we are counting down the days until we become "Mr. & Mrs. Hauser," and we are planning our journey there together. Monday, I fixed a blueberry crisp, and, in my humble opinion, it was amazing. It was like tasting home. I slaved over picking those berries, and they turned out perfect in my crisp. I recently finished Bread & Wine and I have to agree with Shauna. Food is a powerful tool and a powerful connector. It brings us together, and brings peace to tiny moments. That crisp did not survive the day, but it is something that we enjoyed together. A small token of joy and happiness. A small bite of life. Blueberries have that effect. They bring back the nostalgia of that memorable summer that happened long, long ago.