It goes without saying, on Cape Cod you don’t tell anyone where you pick your blueberries. It’s not a problem for me. I’m a terrible forager. Every spring I take a zillion photos of blueberry flowers, but when it’s time to harvest I’m absolutely clueless. And in the field I’m either too lazy — or there isn’t enough bandwidth — to geolocate from the photos.
To be honest, I didn’t go out with the intention of picking blueberries. I stumbled upon some, and then the hunt was on. Hiking and foraging yesterday wasn’t my brightest move. It was 86F in the shade and the deerfly were thick. Yet, somehow, the smell of the sun’s heat on the pitch pine took me back to childhood summers, and I was ecstatic.
Of course, I hated picking blueberries as a kid. My parents would dress us up in ridiculous old clothes, with all parts of us covered (see photo of them during one of their last expeditions). You might think they were concerned with ticks, but in truth it was snakes that were on their minds. After being startles by a black racer, my mother commandeered my tube socks and made sure she was secure. The coffee cans on string are, in retrospect, an elegant design, but at the time I found them particularly degrading. Yesterday I was aided by a one-quart ziplock I had in my bag. And after a few hours, I barely managed to fill half of it.
My parents in Wellfleet MA after blueberrying — probably around 1989.
Most of my picking was on low bush plants, although I did encounter one high bush plant that was loaded. I prefer the size of the high bush blueberry, but there’s something about the taste of the low bush variety that I might prefer. They seem tarter. While I had to search to find blueberries, (the often overlooked) huckleberry were everywhere I turned. If that’s your thing, now’s the time.
Berries aside, yesterday’s real discovery was a new trail, recently blazed by the Park Service. It’s not even on AllTrails yet! It connects two of my favorite Truro fire roads, making a much more robust loop with no backtracking necessary. It always delights me when I find something new in familiar woods.
Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod is a fundraiser to support Provincetown Commons’ artist studios, co-working facility, meeting spaces and exhibition gallery. Please donate at our website: https://www.provincetowncommons.org/fieldguide-walkingandpaintingcapecod