When a blueberry is more than a blueberry…

My most joyful afternoons this summer have been spent picking blueberries with my two-year-old son. We head outside when we are least likely to get attacked by mosquitoes, each with a container to fill up. Funny, the result is the same each time. We return to the house with my large container 3/4  full, and my son’s container completely empty. (Note: my container would be full, but after my kiddo is tired of picking blueberries for himself to eat, he just parks himself by my bucket to facilitate the scooping of Tremendous Handfuls.)  Remind you of anyone?

If you’re a fan of Robert McCloskey (and blueberries), it reminds you of Little Sal.

This is an enchanting story of a little girl and her mother (and a little bear and his mother) and their adventures picking berries on Blueberry Hill. Each has the goal of picking (or eating) enough berries to sustain them through the winter.

Much to my delight,  my son adores the book, and now that it is daily read, picking blueberries is even more fun for both of us. He giggles when I call him ‘Sal’, and thinks it’s hilarious when I tell him to “run along and pick your own berries – I want to take my berries home and freeze them for winter.”

Having our own blueberry bushes, and a lovely story about harvesting them, reinforces the power of gardening, literature, and family time to influence a young person’s food attitudes. Sure, my son liked blueberries out of the carton from the grocery store – but these little blue orbs have now been elevated from simple snack fare to magic and memories. The magic will continue this winter, when we bake blueberry muffins or pancakes together on weekend mornings.

What I’m trying to tell you is it’s blueberry season! Stock up on berries from your local farmers market to enjoy now and through the winter. They freeze beautifully (wash, freeze single layer on cookie sheet, and then store in freezer safe container.) Stay tuned for a slew of ways to use your fresh berries.

And if you have the opportunity, take your little ones along for the picking (or the purchasing), and perhaps stop at the library or bookstore on your way home for a magical story about the food you are about to enjoy.


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