It's hard to feel lonely in a blueberry patch. Hidden between the tall bushes, a person can be as solitary or sociable as they like. Some are absorbed with the job at hand and the beauty around them, or are entertained by the exchanges drifting in and out of the blueberry bushes. Others, while still working productively, carry on conversations with old friends or new acquaintances.
We heard friendly banter, and, among other things, talk about walleye fishing, vacations, photography, tennis, God's grace, and blueberries--blueberry pie, blueberry jam, blueberry smoothies, blueberry muffins. But the pickers all seemed to have one thing in common; everybody was happy. And how could one be otherwise, surrounded by such abundance and beauty? This year, the berries went into the buckets, not by 3's and 4's, but by handful after handful.
Like most farmers, the Eckart's have had their share of setbacks over the years--a devastating late hard frost, a ice storm, and a tornado, to name a few, but they continue to maintain a beautiful and friendly atmosphere. This year, Dora's tornado toppled trees on the property, and a wide swath of destruction was evident on the way in. But the trees that fell in the yard fell away from the house, and the violent winds in the top of the trees didn't come down to the level of the bushes.
Last year, from the back of the patch, familiar hymns wafted on the breeze, sung by a young woman with a clear, sweet voice. And this year, we overheard a little girl, amazed by her discovery, saying, "I didn't know blueberry picking could make friendships."
It can, and it does.