On our recent trip to New Hampshire (which I promise we’ll blog about in detail sometime before next summer…) I had two objectives in mind.
I wanted to pick wild blueberries and I wanted to see a moose.
I never saw a moose.
I did, however, risk my life while foraging for blueberries. I can think of worse ways to go than with a mouthful of wild berry goodness, but… I can also think of better ways. Like, when I’m old.
If you’ve never had a wild blueberry, they are similar to their commercial cousins but much smaller and much more intensely flavored.
The reason I had blueberries on my mind is that Aunt Marian mentioned their backyard was lousy with them and that they were ripe for the picking.
So off to New Hampshire we went with a big blue bucket for our little blue berries. Let me tell you, Aunt Marian wasn’t lying!
Their backyard was lined with blueberry bushes, and we spent a lot of early-morning and late afternoon time crouched over the bushes filling up our bucket.
Unfortunately, we weren’t the first ones to discover these blueberry bushes, so a lot of them had already been picked over by Aunt Marian and Uncle Bill or by the birds that flew over their 22 acres of property.
This, and the itty-bitty nature of wild blueberries made the filling of our bucket slow-going.
So, ever the adventurous Scouts (of the boy and girl variety), we set off in search of more plentiful blueberries. We happened across a field that it didn’t seem anyone else had happened upon before us, so I sent Mr. Moore to get our basket as I started the harvest in the skirt of my dress.
I was merrily going along scooping up as many berries as I could, very pleased with how quickly my skirt was filling up. And then. I saw it.
BEAR POOP! Right in the middle of my blueberry patch. It was unmistakable. My years at Girl Scout camp and the many lessons I learned about bears flashed through my mind.
- Where there is poop, there are bears.
So, I looked up slowly scanning the line of the woods ahead of me. No bears waiting on the outskirts of the woods. A small sigh of relief. Then a sharp intake of breath as my eyes adjusted to the sight just 30 feet ahead of me to my right. Something small, and furry, and brown. It looked at me. A baby bear.
- Where there is a baby bear, there is a momma bear.
We looked at each other for the longest moment of my life, then… the baby bear looked away from me and towards the woods. I followed his gaze and saw what he was looking for. At the edge of the woods, where two seconds earlier there had been no bears, was his Momma. And she was on all fours. And she was running in my direction.
Now, at this point, I could have remembered some of the other facts about bears I had learned as a Girl Scout. Like:
- You cannot outrun a bear.
- If you encounter a bear, back away slowly.
- Do not panic.
But, I didn’t think of any of those things. I dropped my skirt full of bear food on the ground and I ran. I ran harder and faster than I have ever run in my life and I never looked back.
As I rounded the corner, I saw Mr. Moore happily approaching with our blueberry basket and a picnic blanket so we could laze about in the afternoon sun and fill our bellies with our harvest. I don’t even think I formed a sentence, I just panted and yelled, “BEARS!!!” “HOUSE!!!” “RUN!!!”
When we got inside I fell to the floor. My legs were on fire. In between my labored breaths I managed to say, “Oh my God” over and over again.
Once I finally regained the gift of speech, I told Mr. Moore my story and informed him that my blueberry picking days were over.
So! That’s the story of how I risked life and limb to bring you…
Get it? Blue-Beary!? Cause I almost got attacked by bears??
This is my first official foray into the wonderful world of canning, and so far, it seems to have been more successful than my foray into foraging for wild berries. I guess I’ll really find out how I did when I check the lids for the vacuum seal tomorrow. Or perhaps the first time we dig into a preserved jar of blueberries and don’t die from eating it!
But, gosh, don’t the jars look pretty cooling on the porch railing?