Tuesday 14 August 2012

The Simple Things

The year was 1967, Canada's Centennial year.  I was fourteen and I didn't give a hoot about the celebrations. My dad had been promoted from principal of a two room school to a full fledged eight room.  We'd moved to a small house on a lake, just outside of Sudbury, and we had a new boat with a 60 hp motor.  We kids were WILD about water skiing!  We skied all day every day.  We ran the boat around to break up the skim ice in the fall and skied in our clothes!

Although we were lucky to have parents who gave us unlimited use of a boat, they would not pay for the gas.  With no such thing as an allowance and no jobs to be had, this presented a huge problem until I came up with the bright idea of picking blueberries and trying to sell them to tourists.  Off we went with a six quart basket, into the forest, and started picking.

Wild blueberries will grow in the teeniest bit of poor soil and are are found everywhere in northern Ontario.  To be sure, you have to keep an eye out for these guys!  Those same berries supply the biggest part of their diet. ~

This black bear is standing in unripe blueberry bushes

Then, we walked a mile or so to the highway and stood there waiting for customers.  I don't think we even had a sign.  What idiots!  Almost immediately a car pulled over and a nicely dressed southern couple got out.  Now, we had no idea what blueberries cost.  Why would we ever buy them?  So, we took a shot and asked for $2.  Gas was 33 cents a gallon and it took five gallons to fill the tank.  They handed that money over lickety split and practically burned rubber getting out of there.

We laughed all the way home about stupid tourists who would pay $2 for something they could find on a rock cliff along the highway!  I'm sure they laughed, almost all the way to Toronto, about the stupid, hillbilly kids that would pick a six quart basket and sell it for $2!  We spent the rest of the season picking and skiing, picking and skiing.

There's no comparison between wild blueberries and farmed ones and the real thing sells for about $8 a pint these days.  Even the cultivated ones are pricey, so I've taken a stab at growing my own.

Four years I waited for my first little crop! ~

I was just about wild with excitement!  Although I shared my raspberries fairly with the chickens, I kept most of these babies for myself.  There was really only enough for one person to have a bit of a treat but I've have great hopes for the other four bushes next year!

I'd like to tell you these are mine, but I had to go to a blueberry farm to buy enough for the freezer.  I just liked the simplicity of the berries and the drying rose petals. ~

Four quarts cost me $24.  Where are the hillbilly kids when you need them!

I guess this girl hasn't changed all that much.  I'm a little long in the tooth for skiing but I still like me a good, fast boat and I still like picking blueberries.  I'm even still comfortable around bears!

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” 
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm sharing the simplicity with:  Wordless Wednesday


  1. First of all I thought you were American, lol, had no idea you were a fellow Canuck
    and second of all why weren't you visiting Expo
    67 that summer - it was the world's largest fair to date and just down the highway from where you lived!!!! Did you get to see it at all?
    Love blueberry's!!!! Funny post Maureen :)

  2. I don't even know where to start....this was a great post to read! Oh my skied with your clothes on in the fall???!!! I'm such a wimp when it comes to cold water! I love blueberries and the wild ones or "huckleberries" we picked in Montana were so yummie. I love that you came up with a way to get gas money by selling berries. What a great memory to have. I love that you are growing blueberries. How do you keep the birds from eating them? When we had our soil tested for growing pumpkins they said it was perfect for blueberries, but so many people told us the birds would eat them all. Your picture of the berries and rose petals is just gorgeous! And now I want some blueberries for breakfast.

  3. your summers must have been wonderful, maureen! the berries look yummy, but, i wouldn't want to run into the furry guy:)

  4. I'm with did you keep your blueberries from being eaten by the birds? Over here at our place, the dogs are our blueberry thieves! And, what will you be doing with your rose petals? I too loved the story from your childhood...picking & skiing! Fun stuff! xo

  5. what a nice story...that blueberry photo was so pretty..I would be scared of a bear..we see them from time to time in New a distance!

  6. We just came from blueberry district last week and the picking was sooooo good. There is something about these little wild blueberries that cannot be matched.

  7. That's so true! What an idyllic childhood you had!

  8. That is a thrilling story and it is great that your parents made you buy gas. I am appalled at how much money teens seem to throw around now who do not have jobs. The blueberries are gorgeous. We live close to a blue berry farm and pay a lot of money for them but I believe strongly in supporting local farmers.

  9. Oh- we used to love picking blueberries, too, when I was a kid. It was always exciting to check them and find them ripe and ready to pick. I never boated as a kid- growing up in the mountains-but my hubby did and all of our kids are good skiers. I can just see you hillbilly kids selling those berries by the side of the road- what a wonderful childhood memory- xo Diana

  10. Love your story. How industrious of you, and what a good lesson from your parents. More of our youth need to learn these lessons. I used to sell my grandmothers homemade ice cream to the other kids in the neighborhood to make money. I taught my kids how to sell at the local flea market when they were very young.

  11. Loved reading your story. What a beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing. The blueberries are beautiful. We have one farmer near by that has a blueberry patch or field but the year I got some there they were not very sweet.
    Have a great day.
    Audrey Z @ Timeless Treasures

  12. My sons favorite fruit is the blueberry. Wants them in EVERYTHING! Where are the hillbilly kids? :)

  13. I love blueberries and eat them on my cereal just about every day. I noticed all of them are coming from Canada now. I remember when my boys picked blackberries and sold them door to door. They made a little bit of spending money!

  14. thank you for the comment and life has changed so much...yur story reminded me of when my Dad used to take the train up into what is known as Dark Canyon,,he would get out with back pack and spend time in the mountains on his own....that same Canyon became his home...with a log was pure contentment...

  15. What a wonderful story. Not only are the simple things sweeter as we get "older" but the things that fill us with nostalgia may be the the best of all.

  16. I don't love blueberries, but I loved your charming story Maureen, what a fun child hood !