Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Blueberry

    Les Bluets, vaccinium cyan coccus. Soft pearls roll in my mouth and are gently squeezed between tooth, tongue and palate. Juice purples lips. Skin, flesh and fluid glide to the ilium and intestine. Glucose, fructose, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C and antioxidants wash microvilli and are absorbed by blood. The blueberry is nutrient dense. Data show they can reduce the effects of aging, reduce cancer risk, lower blood pressure, improve brain function and memory, and reduce muscle damage. I eat blueberries every day.


    On a hill at Soot’s Camp, with mattock and shovel I dig holes one foot deep and two across, remove clayey soil, grass and rock, and fill each with sphagnum, three cubic feet. Using my hands, I dig a well in the fluffy peat and blend in acidic fertilizer. One blueberry bush is put in the center and gently covered, root ball crown level to the earth. The plants are two-to-three years mature and stand three to four feet. For some, leaf and blossom look ready to burst. I staked all and ran water over the patch for a couple hours. Next week I will cover the field with pine needles to hold moisture and deter weeds. 30 plants in the ground. “How long did it take?” a friend asked. I said my measure is ibuprofen: “A lot.” My hands are dry and skin cracked around fingernails with dirt lines underneath. My back and butt hurt. I love this. There is enough for all at Soot’s Camp. Children may run among the dark glossy leaves and pop berries into their mouths. My purpose, though, is more for the birds, deer and wildlife who will suckle the fruit. I have six varieties mixed across my crop – Duke, Reka, Bluecrop, Jersey, Liberty and Elliott. They span early to late fruit bearing, so we will have a robust spring, summer and fall. Next weekend I’ll plant a 12-foot serviceberry tree across the pond from the cabin. Its flowers are beautiful, like cherry flowers, and the fruit wonderful to eat – for man and bird. The spot I’ve chosen is where old trees, poplar and oak, have fallen due to new infestation of emerald ash borer and bark beetle, vermin that have come north as a result of global warming.

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    Blueberry. My sister Kathy’s first horse was named “Blueberry,” a 14.2 dapple gray gelding. Perfect for pony club. I took lessons at the local stables. My learning steed was an old plug named “Socks.” When I mounted Blueberry, he was nothing like Socks. He ran like the wind across the golden field. I rode Blueberry two times – my first time and my last time.

    We moved from DC to Virginia so Kathy could have a horse. We worked with the farmer across the street to fence an open pasture. This became Blueberry’s home. It was rather nice. I used to lay down on crisp grassy hillocks in the sun with my pup Winnie at my side and watch Kathy post and trot. She was thirteen and blossoming.
    
    Caddy and Benjy, in sunshine and cool sedge, we did not know. [1]

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    Soot’s Camp is renewed. The bluebird pair has returned to their nest, a birdhouse atop the pond cliff. So have two Canadas, goose and gander. The blues are putting grasses in their home and the geese are making a nest at the cliff bottom. Egg laying will come. The black vulture pair was about yesterday, scouting their home in rocks behind the camp’s colonial wall from high in the air and atop trees. I called to my old friends, “Caw-ha-haw-haw ... hof ....” Frog and toad have risen from mud and sing across the day. I’ve seen bass and cat glinting in the sun under pond water atop olivey depths. Golden forsythia and daffodil are always within sight.

    Soot seems young when she is out. She rolls in the grass, flops about and stretches long in the sun. Her gas is the same, but she has better legs for walks, the Appalachian Trail, along a creek, in meadows, or simply around the ponds.

    I cultivated and fertilized much, but there is more to go.

    All is greening.

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    Loving.

 


[1] The larger work draws on characters from William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. They are Compson family siblings: Benjy, the mentally disabled fourth child who is a constant source of shame and grief for his family; Caddy, the only family member who shows any genuine love towards Benjy; and Quentin, the passionate and neurotic Harvard student, who commits suicide as the tragic culmination of the damaging influence of his father's nihilistic philosophy and his inability to cope with his sister's sexual promiscuity.

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