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BLUEBERRIES – By Gil Allen

August 24, 2012

All June
and July, berries,
enough berries, more
than enough, berries for the birds
and us!  Each morning
we’d go out in the still
and savor, marveling
in low sunlight at their burgeoning
abacus, subtracting,
the ripest, the best.

Now Carolina August
and only a few
remain — ones we’d have passed
over, or thrown away, it only seems
moments before.  Yet we pluck,
and find, in their barely
bitter, a remembered
flavor — then happen upon one
cluster our soured mouths swear
the sweetest of the season.

When I was a boy I picked blueberries. We would walk over to a swampy lowlands and step into another world of mosses and fallen trees. If the mosquitoes weren’t bad we could spend an afternoon. My mother would spread a blanket and we would scurry off to fill out coffee cans that father had fashioned with a handle of string. It was a perfect afternoon for mother because each of us was off on our own and she could sit and read a book, one of her period romances no doubt. Purple tongues betrayed the child who was not working for a blueberry pie or a blueberry upside down cake. We all dutifully reported from time to time with our coffee cans filled and dumped them into the larger basket that mother had brought with her. There was also a picnic with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and devilled eggs. We made careful to pick only the largest berries leaving the smaller ones to grow for later in the summer.  Everything seemed perfect.

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