Last week, we made the journey to our favorite spot for blueberry picking - Rivard's Farm in Springvale, Maine. It always was a bit of a journey for us, but in our new home, it's even more of a journey. We hemmed and hawed over whether it really made sense to drive all that extra distance "just" for berries (precious time, precious ecosystem and all those important things).
We went for it, though. And it was a gorgeous day - the picking was perfect and plentiful, the children happy, the weather nice and cool, and the berries even more amazing than I remember. We filled up our baskets while I dreamed of jam and pie, and counted how many pounds I could freeze. I watched my children run up and down the rows and eat as many berries as they collected. More, really, because they kept stealing from mine. Classic. I think Steve and I even managed a conversation between the picking and the parenting. I felt myself filling up with contentment with each basketful.
When everyone tired of the picking, we gathered our loot and headed to the white farmhouse at the bottom of the hill. There, on the front porch, we found the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Rivard, playing a game of cards together (last year I specifically remember them eating cookies and drinking tall glasses of milk). Just the sight of them made my smile wider, my heart warmer. After weighing the berries and paying, we exchanged quick hellos, talked about berries, the weather, the farm, and their grandchildren (25 of them, to be precise). They don't know us from the next customer - but oh, we know them and remember them from year to year, and care for them in our thoughts.
Married for 63 years, this time I asked them what advice they had to share. Talking over each other excitedly, she said, "We never fight." and he responded with a sweet smile on his face, "I decided a long time ago, I'd rather be happy than right."
The morning spent picking berries with my children was lovely, the pie we had after dinner that night was divine, and I am quite certain that the jam we make and the blueberry pancakes we eat come February will be such a treat. But I remembered in that simple little exchange that getting our berries is about so much more than "just" the food. It always is.
(And I do hope Steve was listening.)