Blueberry Wars

     There’s something about picking blueberries that some people just don’t understand.  You are either a picker or a non-picker, there’s not really an in between.  Those of us who are blueberry pickers are very unique and most of us have a number of things in common with each other.

       Real blueberry pickers feel ownership of their patches.  We may not own the property the blueberries are on but if it is close to our property or we’ve picked it for years then we consider it our own.  If we take someone to one of our patches then that person should consider themselves very lucky.  It does not mean they can go to the blueberry patch without us, it just means they got to pick that spot and they should be thankful.  If they are really nice then they may get asked to pick again otherwise they should know enough to stay away.

     A serious blueberry picker does not want a stranger picking anywhere near there patch when they are picking.  If you can see the picker then you are too close, back away in a big hurry.  There are tons of patches out there and it is not proper blueberry ettiquette to pick near someone you don’t know.  Go find another spot. If you(the non-local) is picking in a patch and someone confidently walks up to the patch and begins picking then you may want to considering leaving because this person obviously has ownership issues.

     If a real blueberry picker sees you in their patch and says something to you then you should respect them.  Along with the possessiveness of patches comes a streak of meaness in most blueberry pickers.  It could be dangerous to ignore or disrespect the serious blueberry picker.  Here’s an example.

     A person paddles over to a piece of property that is close to private property.  They see blueberries and decide to get out and pick.  The owner of the property closest to this public land comes outside and says, "I’ve picked that area already." The enemy replies, "You didn’t do a very good job."  The owner then says, "I’m actually saving that patch for when my 82 year old mother comes up later this week."  The invader asks snappily, "Do you own this property?"  The owner says, "No."  The crazy person says, "Well that’s too bad."  Then this person continues to pick blueberries while the owner heads back to her house, grabs her loaded shotgun and heads back down to the lake.  She fires one warning shot above the rude one and says, "You can keep picking if you want but it’s time for me to hunt snipe and there’s a bunch of snipe in that blueberry patch so you better watch out."  She cocks the gun and shoots the scared person’s blueberry bucket right out of the hand of the invader.  Blueberries spill, a dark spot appears in the picker’s pants as they quickly make their way back to their canoe and paddle away. 

     So, the last part about getting the shotgun really didn’t happen but that’s what would cross the mind of every serious blueberry picker.  It could happen too. The thing with the local blueberry pickers is they know where to hide a body too.

     Another thing most blueberry pickers have in common is they have a difficult time leaving a good patch.  It doesn’t matter if there is a thunderstorm approaching, a cloud of mosquitoes attacking or if the temperature and humidity are soaring.  The serious picker will not leave until they have picked their fill, filled their containers or are ready to leave.

     Every serious blueberry picker leaves a little bit of time to pick stray berries on the way out.  If there’s a berry in their path then they feel compelled to pick it.  You can’t pass by a good patch without grabbing a few on your way.

     If you’re ever on a hike with a serious blueberry picker and there are ripe berries then you better be prepared to hike slowly.  This person will be so obsessed with the patches they will stop abruptly to pick and speak of little or nothing else on the hike. 

     To my knowledge there are no specific 12 step groups for those addicted to picking. Most of us realize we are powerless but are not interested in quitting. 

      If you have a story to tell about picking blueberries then I would love to hear it and share it with my readers.  I may even have to write a book about all of the blueberry adventures I’ve had over the years.  Who knows, you could be a star!

Blueberries in the Boundary Waters