Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Which We Find the End of My Summer Job

During a rather cold and bitter day in the middle of February, I found myself daydreaming about being up the hill at the farm picking blueberries. I remembered how warm the sun felt on my skin as I spent the days outside, picking berries in the morning and helping customers get to where they needed to be and grading/packing in the afternoon. I thought about how nice the solitariness of it was.. just me and my music passing away the time in the fresh air. It was a nice daydream that got me through some rather awful winter days.

School ended in June, and I had an unexpected extra week off, as we didn't start picking berries until the middle of July this year. I remember how pleased I was to get back up there, out in the sunshine and fresh air. This summer was different than last summer in a lot of ways. I started out picking raspberries in the morning, then blueberries in the afternoon. When that ended, I switched to currants, and then tomatoes in the morning, and blueberries in the afternoon. Then, due to the weather not cooperating, I picked blueberries in the morning, and in the afternoon. I enjoyed the change a lot, but it made for some very exhausting days.

Last summer's drought, combined with the harsh winter and wet spring really fowled up the blueberry crop this year. As a result, we have far less berries than last summer, which means we have done far less picking. We had to say no to all wholesale orders this year, and the pickers had a lot of days of. Lucky for me, being an "old hand" and an excellent worker, I still got to work on those days, but we also had a lot of rainy days off which we had only two of all last summer. You heard me right, two all summer long. The berries that are worth picking are being saved for the customers to pick and so I arrived at today, my last day up the hill, ready to be done. It was a long day that involved a morning in the tomato house, and an afternoon of frustrating picking in the middle of the "bog" (it's a field above the stream that stays pretty wet at the bottom) and some packing at the end of the day.

I start working at school again on Monday, and having had such a busy summer working, I am entirely not ready to go back. I need some days off to enjoy summer, and I'm hoping the weather these next few days will cooperate and our trip to the lake Saturday will happen. It's not nearly enough, but it will have to hold me over. Next summer I will head back up there, a little earlier in the season to start with raspberries, and some of our laziest workers who made this summer so very challenging will no longer be there.  I am daydreaming about it already.

*photos from last summer

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