Blueberry Summer and a Recipe for Nice Cream
We were out on a Summer’s evening. Alice was leaving, we’d sat around the table with fans blowing, drinking cherry shrubs and messing with art supplies. She’s discovered art—drawing, color… making cartoon faces, and fallen in love with the simple joy of reconnecting with herself.
I hand her a quart of fresh blueberries. She’s delighted, so, off-hand, I ask her to come along the next time we pick.
“I’ve never picked a blueberry in my life. Why should I? Is there something special about picking blueberries?” She gives me a look, as if the labor intensive idea of blueberry picking was exhausting and absurd.
We’re standing across from each other saying our goodbyes, but now there's an ocean between us.
“Well, it’s one of my favorite things.” I say.
She’s puzzled, but I can’t explain, because she doesn’t know Summers standing in a blueberry field; the way the branches swoop, like resting crane’s wings; how berries cluster in bunches, in unnamable colors: frosted leaf, robin’s egg, sky in winter, summer dusk, pooled water after rain, all the way to dark blood veins.
She doesn’t know how to shape her hand like a comb and rake through those varying shades of ripeness. Or, the smell of wood chips, sound of bird calls, the berry varieties with nuances between tart and sweet. Flavors as wide as wine grapes; fruity large berries, tart small ones with hues of blue mountain and skies beyond the horizon.
Has she heard blueberry bushes; so quiet, until they speak of grandmothers, sisters, mothers, aunts; or has she experienced how berries filter themselves through your fingers, allowing the green ones to fall? These only come from a lifetime of blueberry picking and she’s never had one.
Has she felt lost and found at the same time, at peace in a mystical union of fruit, wanting to rename the field—blueberry sanctuary, refuge, church?
Or, experienced the rituals of arriving each year to our local parcels of land — taking pilgrimages with children and friends, stuffing bear bellies with fruit until tongues turn blue?
Or, heard others amongst the bushes, the foreign mouths, as families harvest the ripe and true.
Has she brought home flats of hand-picked berries? Enough to make blueberry pancakes, with blueberry syrup, blueberry pie, and sometimes even blueberry butter?
I can’t imagine having never picked a blueberry in my life. Yes, many things I’ve never done — I want to see a grove of pomegranates, I want to harvest an orchard of figs and dates. I want to press olives into oil.
“Well,” she says before shutting the gate. “If you love picking berries so much, I might try it. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve opened my eyes.”
It’s Blueberry Time
We’ve reached the blueberry time of the summer. I hope you have time to pick berries straight from the field, but if not, then the Co-op’s the place to buy fresh local berries. I’m including a recipe for my favorite easy summer treat, Nice Cream. It’s great with any summer fruit. I love that it’s so easy, yet so satisfying.
Blueberry Nice Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 bananas, frozen and cut into chunks
1 cup frozen blueberries
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon monk fruit powder or stevia optional
In a high powered blender, or a food processor, add the cream part, leaving the water, from a can of coconut milk. Add the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Enjoy right away or freeze in small cups for later.