Friday, August 11, 2006

Blue, blue, blueberries

The day started early for me but as with every day now, "early" is really a little later as the sun noticeablely rolls over in bed one more time before alerting us that it's time to get going. May and early June are better months for a gardener as you needn't wait for the sun to jump start the day.

I wanted to get the daylilies deadheaded and then pack the truck with recycling. My plan was to get to Montpelier early and then get back here before Gail and Alex left for the day. I needed to sort the recycling, pack the trash and get to the barber by 7.

I still go to a barber although most all my friends go to those salon places that ask you what you want and charge you extra for asking. My barber asks me how my family is while he cuts my hair the same way every time. He always ends by holding up a mirror so I can approve how he cut the back. I always wonder what he'd say if I said it was terrible but I never do because it's always the same. Back in the days when I went to the barber with my dad, he called it "getting your ears lowered". He also had a very boring line at the end of all his haircuts about how he had to pay his barber to find hair to cut. My dad was quite bald but he always wanted his hair short on the sides and back.

I got back on time and got a good start on the day. I was set up in time to take the dog for a final walk out back before the first customers showed. He's the only dog I have ever owned who doesn't like wild blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. Maybe Chihuahuas aren't real dogs. In contrast, I really enjoy berries of all types and when I walk in the fields in August, I keep a detailed eye out for the shape of berries.

This morning was no different except that I was surprised to spot a little grey fox so intent on eating blueberries that he didn't notice us. These are neat foxes rarely seen around here. They have special traits such as the ability to climb trees but they eat about the same as their cousins. Our dog lacks good eyesight and didn't make the same connection I did. I remained motionless by an apple tree as the fox used its tongue to roll berries off the bush. I assume it didn't drop many as it never lowered its head. When I pick berries I'm forever dropping some and then I bend over to try to find what I have dropped and in so doing tip over my bucket and make a real mess. Grey foxes obviously have more talent and don't feel compelled to pick up what they miss.

I could have stayed longer but I knew people would be arriving. Karl and I headed back to the house with all too many interruptions for him to smell this and that and water things down as only male dogs can. Two ladies were waiting for us and Karl greeted them harshly enough that I walked him backwards through some lilies so he couldn't approach them. The day had begun and it would continue until about 4. Somewhere during that time I reminded myself that I never posted Gail's recipe for her famous blueberry coffee cake. It's best with wild blueberries but cultivated berries will do. You'll feel a lot better when you eat some if you picked the berries yourself.


2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups blueberries


1/3 c. each, brown and white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. melted butter

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter. Make well in center, add milk, eggs, vanilla. Stir until moist. Fold in blueberries. Spread in 13" X 9" pan. Top with topping which has been mixed together. Bake 375 degreees for about 25 minutes.

Don't tell anyone what you're doing when you make this the first time. Once people find out about it, they mess up the pan in short order and about all that's left is crumbs and little walnut pieces.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the quiet night is darker than a pocket,

Gardening wishes,

George Africa

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