Tuesday, July 20, 2010

blueberries and random philosophizing

O Happy Day, it was cooler today, so I finally busted out and did one of my favorite things to do in the whole wild world: blueberry picking. Hooray!


I went to GMO, just down the road. In years past, I’ve gone with a friend to the Miller Farm, also just down the road, but I actually kinda prefer this place, shhhhhh… No particular reason. Well, maybe the fact that a few years ago, Andrea Darrow was busy making peach preserves and had too many peaches to deal with (how does that happen?), and SHE GAVE ME an ENTIRE BOX of peaches. Oh My Word, were they good. I cut them up and froze them and had them in smoothies for MONTHS. So I do tend to give her my blueberry business.

GMO is a low-spray operation, but they’ve got an uncertified organic field across the road from where most people go, and that’s where I’ve gone the past few years. I had the place to myself for most of the time. Well, I shared it with a bunch of bees, but we didn’t bother each other. 

I picked nearly three gallons, which together weighed just over ten pounds.


I didn’t think to take this picture until after I’d packed up a ziploc (shown at left). This is a lot of blueberries! They were $1.95 a pound, so just over twenty bucks. A steal, if you ask me. Hey: I got to spend time alone in a sea of blueberry bushes, listening to birds and insects, feeling the breeze, and enjoying a Vermont summer day, PLUS I get to keep the blueberries? DEAL.


Although this may seem like a lot of blueberries, I plan on getting more over the coming weeks. We’ve got a regular Sunday pancake ritual, plus smoothies, to sustain.

By the time I got home and busy putting them away, the sun had emerged from clouds and the cats were grateful to come inside and sprawl on the cool floors.


Do you see Maggie, in the background?

Kevin came in from some work-related meetings soon after, and we went outside to check up on the pod people. I mean, the melon/ cantaloupe patch. Don’t ask me why I say “pod people”. There’s just something vaguely ominous about this patch. It’s just so…LUSH.  And the watermelons are growing really fast! Well, they could be growing slowly, for all I know of watermelons. They are growing discernibly bigger, every day, let’s just put it that way.


This is the biggest one.

Over the course of about fifteen minutes, we counted about fifteen watermelons.


This one still has its flower attached to its bottom.


Kevin’s more practiced than I at spotting them, so at first he saw them all – and he EVEN spotted a “lizard”, which I was able to catch sight of – it was a huge red eft! Hooray! In our melon patch! This led to Kevin doing some Monty Python riffing…”she turned me into a newt, she did…I got better…” After a few minutes, I landed some first sightings myself, and felt a lot better about my Nature Observing Abilities.

The bees were busy with the cantaloupe flowers. Cantaloupes have both male and female flowers. And, according to the University of Minnesota’s Extension Office …


…those flowers “have a pollination window of one day. Pollen must be transferred from the male flower to the female flower on this day for seed set and fruit development.”  So we’ve got our fingers crossed!

And then what.

And then we practiced making out and getting pictures of it, but most of them didn’t turn out right.


Like, where am I in this picture?

And then we cooked out on the grill, including zucchini from our CSA, which was fantastic, and grass-fed beef from a farm up in northern Vermont – a little far, but it’s available at the food coop in Brattleboro, so it’s easier to go get. (We also get grass-fed beef from Sweet Tree Farm, but they have very limited hours to go buy it…) High Meadows Farm, which is located at the top of that super-steep hill I go up on my longer runs, has a little sign out that says “grass fed beef – order now”. We should look into that. My only concern is, I don’t think I’m up for ordering say, half a cow. Hm. I should give them a call.

Not that you asked, but here is a very brief history of Me, and Eating Meat.

In college, grossed out by dining hall food, I became a vegetarian. Just the “no meat” kind, as I believe myself to have (genetically, at any rate) come from a long line of dairy farmers and have no lactose issues and LOVE cheese, any kind, you name it, I’ll eat it. (One of the few areas of food where it doesn’t matter how weird and stinky the food is, I’m game. Smells like a fourteen year old’s gym shoes? With green stuff growing in it? Bring it on!)

Now, every year and a half or so, I’d get this intense craving for red meat – probably the anemia talking, as I am prone to anemia – and this usually would find an opportunity for expression on say, family holidays, so I became famous (translation: my Aunt Susie would notice and ride me about it) for being a “steak-eating vegetarian”.

My reasoning behind not eating meat was primarily ethical. The environmental considerations were a factor, too (the “16 pounds of grain per pound of beef” argument, plus the “poop run-off” issue, etc. etc..) On the ethical front, it was not so much that I believed people shouldn’t be eating other sentient beings. It was more, if you’re going to do it, do it. You should be prepared to take full responsibility. Since I didn’t have the guts to kill my own meat, I figured I had no business paying others to do the dirty work.

In 1997? 1998? I think 1998. I was on a business trip in Seattle. And I had been feeling so weak, so tired, so hungry ALL THE TIME. My boss’s wife actually asked me if I was pregnant, come to think of it. So I’m on this business trip. In a restaurant. And I realized, I need meat. Right now.

Thus ended the vegetarianism.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I could eat all these other foods and get adequate protein…But I really dislike a lot of those foods, and you know what else? Heavy sigh. I’m kinda lazy. I have enough trouble cooking the amount of food that I currently cook. And the whole “don’t eat it unless you yourself butchered it” idea? Yet another compromise I’ve made. Although I do pay attention to where it’s coming from.

Where I’m at now is that I generally only eat local organic-or-close-to-it chicken, pork, and beef. For beef, it’s got to be grass-fed. No feedlot food for me, thanks. I’m by no means totally consistent. We’ll throw pepperoni on pizza and I have to be honest, I have no idea where that pepperoni is from… OK, note to self, investigate “cleaner” pepperoni.

And I have friends and loved ones all over the spectrum on this one.

I’ve got vegetarian, including vegan, friends and family. As well as loved ones who raise and butcher their own meat. My soul sister/wife Michele hunts and butchers elk, deer, antelope, etc. and she’s got more than one freezer full of meat. For her, butchering is a sacred responsibility.

So that’s today’s ramble. Hope you enjoyed it.

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