I love blueberries. They’re in my blood. My grandmother Evelyn Ruth Johnson was born in Spring Lake, Michigan where the climate and geography is excellent for blueberries. My father expressed his joy of eating them and I’m continuing the heritage of this good for you fruit.
I planned a short trip with two of my sons, Vincent and Quentin to drive west from Grand Rapids to Blueberry Hill in Spring Lake to pick a bucket or two. So, here it is late-July and blueberries are available. We have had a severe drought this year with very little rain and farms of all types are hurting from this drought. I know we will be paying for it this fall and winter when we need our daily bread but for now, the price of a large bucket of blueberries (approximately 20 cups) is still only $10 as it was two years ago.
After discussing it with their mother for them to be at my apartment by 5:30 so we could have time to pick before they closed at 7, our journey began promptly at 6pm. Someone forgot but I didn’t even mention their tardiness to them at the time. Blueberry Hill doesn’t turn the sprinklers on to get you out of the fields at 7pm so we headed west with drinking water and a large cooler to transport our cache of fruity treasures back home.
I thought that the westbound expressway would be a nightmare on a Friday evening so I had planned to leave early and take the country roads for the ease of driving and beauty of the farmlands that you have to pass through to get to get there. Since the boys were late, I hopped on the expressway near the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts headquarters. Traffic was swift but moderate with politely merging traffic and no slowdowns. As we neared our destination, orange caution signs and traffic diversions were encountered. The Michigan road crews don’t do anything when the weather turns to ice and snow and our road repairs, maintenance, and new exit ramps are built all summer when the weather is nice.
I normally hop off the expressway at M104 to Spring Lake and this trip would be no different except that the exit ramp was closed due to construction. My style of driving where I’ve always gone before had me ignoring the detour signs such as “Exit here you idiot because the next one’s closed” sent us a few miles north, west, south, and then back east to our destination. If I just had seen those big orange signs and taken the Nunica exit before M104, we would have gotten there sooner. Our diversion took us past a beautiful channel filled with lilly pads that I made a mental note to revisit when the flowers bloom and past a beautiful glittering lake and marina between Grand Haven and Muskegon. So we added a few miles and minutes to get to our destination but added some good sights and conversation to our journey.
As we got to the parking area in the midst of the blueberry fields, my son Quentin mentioned, “Hey, that same guy is here” recognizing him from a previous years trip to the same farm. He was one of the workers, a young man about college age who hangs out under the tent trading white buckets for money and directing us where the berries are most abundant on this day and he eased my mind that we have a bit of flex time and he won’t shoo us off of the farm promptly at 7.
I picked blueberries while taking a few cell phone photos, some macro photos with my real camera, and talking to my mom who called while my hands were massaging the berries off of the branches and into my bucket. The boys combined theirs to get a second bucket of berries in between chatting and throwing a few at me and each other. I ate a few handfuls while picking but the boys ignored my question when I asked them how many they ate.
We paid $20 for two buckets and were heading back to town by 7:15 with a few days worth of blueberries in two large brown paper bags under frozen water bottles in my cooler. We were able to get back on the expressway heading east instead of taking the country roads back to Grand Rapids. We stopped at a fast food place and were over exuberantly greeted by the drive through order taker who I’m sure wanted to sell us some delicious high fructose corn syrup beverages along with our party pack of tacos. Maybe he was trying to win the sales contest but he received zero extra points from our purchase. The dozen tacos were hastily thrown together along with a shortage of tiny taco sauce packets that weren’t really enough for Vince who likes a packet for every bite. Sorry Vince, next time, I’ll ask for six per taco for you.
We munched on our delicious dinner and hung out at my apartment and everyone went into their own world for a while playing Angry Birds on various Android tablets and then we picked out a long movie to watch. I forgot that Avatar was such a long movie. 162 minutes of awesome CGI scenes directed by James Cameron that included intense battle scenes and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking. Kof-kof. I wish Sigourney Weaver coughed when she smoked at the beginning. So nevertheless, we were up late watching in awe as stupid earthlings tried to destroy another world just to get some Unobtanium that is worth millions of dollars but is five years away from Earth. At times I missed a few scenes as I dozed in and out of consciousness. Hopefully without drooling.
Lights out at around 1am. Teeth brushed and flossed.
I know my nocturnal gerbils made noise all night clunking the coffee cups that I let them sleep in and running on their wire exercise wheel. Sorry boys, my apartment is small and the only other place I can put them in is my bathroom. Maybe next time I will remember to move their house to the bath. I discovered that the girls love blueberries also. They are much tastier than those dried seeds aren’t they? I’ll be sure to save some for treats for them as long as as possible.
It is now 9:15am and the boys are still keeping their eyes closed while tossing and turning to even out their wrinkles courtesy of the five piece sectional couch in my apartment.
Time to make some blueberry pancakes or waffles boys? Real dairy milk, real maple syrup, real butter and real blueberries.
What a nice way to start the day.
— Blueberry Hill is family owned and located on Cleveland Street (M104) towards Grand Haven. Just east of 140th on the north side of the road. Open Mon-Sat 9:00am to 7:00pm. Contact phone: 616-842-4950.