Above: Andrew Wyeth Print
This morning I went to our local blueberry festival and ate blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce and started home with three quarts of blueberries, one of which was delivered to my friend Roy who is almost 102 years old.
A second quart went to the bears who are already under fire for the coming slaughter which begins this month…that quart contains a bevy of earth bear prayers.
The third quart became the blueberry sauce that I lovingly make every single year in honor of this Turning of the Wheel. The month of August signals the beginning of the harvest and for me, like gathering the first ripening pods, making blueberry sauce speaks to my participation in the great round, a holy undertaking.
The recipe I use is one that I created, but it has its roots in this wild blueberry festival and the local folk, the men and women who painstakingly pick the berries. Traditionally it is still the women who make pies, muffins, tarts, and cakes to sell – but for me the lure is those fresh berries picked with so much love and attention to detail (no green berries end up in these quarts).
As I am stirring the sauce, my mouth literally waters in anticipation of what’s to come and at the end of the cooking time, I scoop up spoons of this deep blue concoction savoring the flavors while staining my mouth and teeth an impossible dark purple! Making blueberry sauce is a wonderful way to preserve the fresh fruit and once the season has passed, opening a jar of the sauce brings late summer back to the table.
My young pine forest was once a field that provided me with more berries than I could ever eat. The field fed birds of all kinds, coyotes, foxes, and mice, voles, and squirrels, while bears combed the steep field with claws raking whole bunches into their mouths at once; We all feasted on Nature’s bounty and I felt such child-like gratitude to be part of what was then, still an unbroken whole. Memories of time spent with my little brother picking berries for my grandmother’s pies were startlingly vivid during that period as were those spent with my youngest son, who once loved to gather both strawberries and blueberries for the pies and muffins I used to make. Those days are gone now along with most of my berries, though I still know places along the pond where high bush berries and huckleberries still grow in abundance.
Today I thought about my two beloved women friends Iren and Harriet and wished that somehow I could have spirited them both from their kitchens to mine to smell and taste this sauce, the color of which defies categorization.
Perhaps I think of them because creating delicious concoctions from wild berries is an ancient practice that women have been engaged in since the beginning of humankind.