Call Him Blue-Berries
This article appeared in the Charlottetown Guardian in a column called We And Our Neighbors Wed Aug. 15 1956.
Call Him, “Blue-Berries!”
What a kind and wise Providence it is that has arranged Old Home Week to coincide with the blue-berry season! For certainly many an Old Homer has dreamed of the blueberry thickets of his childhood and those dreams have undoubtedly helped lure him back.
Of all the berry species, the blue-berry seems most endowed by nature to delight the senses of man. Raspberries, for instance are delicious and when perfect they hand on the vine like rubies. But their leaves are rough to the touch and their stems are prickly and tiny insects too often lurk in their crevasses. And to approach the raspberries, the picker must make his way through briar and bramble.
But the wild blue-berry is without flaw or harshness in itself or its habitat. A cluster of blueberries is an exquisite as a Chinese sketch. The eyes rest with ease and pleasures on the small shining leaves, the delicate satiny stem, the soft azure of the tiny lobes, silken smooth.
And how enchanting is the home of the wild-blue-berries! They snuggle deep in the plushy emerald moss. Ferns wave above them. Evergreens grow thickly around them. White birch saplings and wild cherry trees, and alders sway above them. In perfumed shade the picket feasts – and picked – lazily drops five berries tinkling into the pail – happily pops a handful, spiced and honeyed, into his mouth.
But alas the wild blue-berry on the Island as in other places, is falling a victim to prosperity and expansion. This morning I set out for my favorite blue-berry thicket. Vanished like the Buffalo! Not a blue-berry to mark the place! Flus with road, stretched a field of buckwheat! And another blue-berry grove had given place to a hay-field. And several other had been cleared away to make room for summer cottages. Oh, there are blue-berry patches left – but for how long?
Soon Old Timers will speak of the quarts and quarts of blue-berries they picked in a single afternoon – and their grandchildren will listen and smile. But they will be telling the truth – not speaking through that rosy veil that often drapes the past and exaggerates if not distorts the facts. Why I can remember less than ten years ago parties filled five gallon milk cans with blue-berries in a single day – and had time to rest and enjoy themselves.
Yes, the wild blue-berries will soon give way to the fine cultivated ones in cans and boxes and not in perfumed thickets. But fields of white buckwheat are also fragrant and beautiful. Haystack are sweet-smelling and beautiful. And around summer cottages play brown and laughing children and adoring puppies.
Just the same, in honor of the wild blue-berries that are going fast – I would suggest that some harness racer during Old Home Week, next year name his horse – that can go still faster – “Blue-berries!” What Old Timer will resist placing a bet on “Blue-berries” – at least his first race, anyway!