Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blueberry season

The weekend was a full one. Saturday I went out with my friend Stéphanie to pick blueberries on the Puy de Dôme. When I was there the Sunday before it looked like a good year for them, but Steph and I were at pains to fill a single one of the smaller receptacles. Even after two hours of stooping and searching and changing hillsides. The ones we found were perfect - big (well, for wild blueberries! Think a quarter inch across) and juicy and bursting with flavor. (Yes, I know it’s disappointing to use such a cliché, but they really were. Pick them too hard and they would just explode like little fruitbombs all over your fingers.)
Sunday I was determined to get in a good long hike, though everybody warned me there were storms in the weather forecast. I never did catch the news to find out what time the storms were scheduled to arrive, but it would surely be late afternoon. For heat-driven summer storms, that’s usually the deal. So if I got going early I’d be home by then.
Early is a relative thing on a summer Sunday morning. Being Sunday, of course, it’s not very early at all. But then, being summer, it’s light out, mitigating the lateness of earliness on a Sunday. Plus the natural aptitude for early rising that depends on who you are.

Let me give you some actual numbers and you can decide what early is to you. Out of bed by 8:30. Respectable. Out the door for the 9:04 bus, but then the connecting bus had just left and I decided to wait instead of beating up my feet on asphalt. Started on the walking part at 10:10.
My route was up to the foot of the mountain by the most direct route, about 9 miles. Around it on the trail through the woods and up over the blueberry-ground shoulder, about 4 miles. Home again for a total of 22 miles of hiking unless I went the longer alternate route to avoid backtracking, though that would depend on the weather. I had a sandwich, a bottle of water, and some m&ms, plus the camera and a small ziplock just in case I saw berries and it wasn’t raining. And yes, a collapsable anti-rain device.
The way up was glorious. When I stopped for lunch it was one of those perfect summer days, not too hot, just a few clouds for decoration.

Emerging from the woods into the potential berrying grounds, there was still sunshine in front of me (east), but behind me things were starting to look different. But hey, I’m from San Diego. I don’t believe in rain. Doesn’t matter what the forecast says; doesn’t matter what the sky looks like; if it isn’t raining, it isn’t raining.

So I hung around for quite a while, rummaging around in likely spots for blueberries that other hikers had missed. Found a few. Not many. And then it started to rain.
Not a lot. The sky was kind to me. We didn’t have a really drenching downpour until evening. But I was glad to have my umbrella with me, and I made my best time ever on the way down. The combined berries from the three trips even made enough for jam.



Freewheel said...

Sounds like a really fun day. Do you have enough blueberries for jam and blueberry pie?

Sara Williams said...

It sounds as though you had a great day. I am not a big fan of blueberries but a jam made from them sounds nice!

steven said...

it's blueberry time here also. days are punctuated by blueberries and cream. i share your approach to weather and getting out to places. if you wait for the perfect day you'll wait . . . and wait . . . . . steven

NanU said...

Not enough for pie, Freewheel, just 5 pints of jam. Of which at least 2 are for friends. If all goes as planned, I should be gathering blackberries later this month. That goes a lot faster if only because the suckers are bigger! and higher up off the ground. Scouting hike planned for the weekend...

Come for a week in beautiful Auvergne, Sara, and I'll give you a pint. And houseroom and all that!

i definitely agree, steven. if you wait, it never happens. i -still- don't speak italian!