Yesterday was the start of the blueberry season at a local farm. They offer a number of rows of bushes for people to pick their own. Today I stopped by, excited about the prospects. Many years ago, when I lived in another state, I had gone to a pick-your-own farm and I remembered being able to pick my fill at only 2 or 3 bushes. I couldn’t wait to get started!
As I was picking, I realized that my expectations weren’t accurate—there were way more unripe berries than ripe ones—and I had to figure things out on the fly. It got me to thinking….
I concluded that no matter how well you plan and how much experience you take with you into a new situation, there’s always going to be changes and tweaks you’ll have to make.
Here are a few things to think about as you head into new surroundings:
Learn the rules of the new place/time.
The blueberry farmers had an information board telling which rows were the best for picking, the etiquette for picking, and—most importantly for me—a special notice about poison ivy that might be around some of the bushes. The blueberry bushes were planted in wide rows that had been mowed so it wasn’t immediately apparent that poison ivy and poison sumac lurked nearby. While I usually remember to keep an eye out for poison ivy, I might not have been so vigilant without the reminder, which I appreciated.
While it’s great to rely on experience and use it as a guide, it’s important to keep an open mind so you can spot things that might be different.
A few weeks ago it was strawberry season. The CSA farmers had told us to make sure the berry was ripe from the stem end all the way down to the tip. I was looking for that same pattern with the blueberries, only to find that they—the blueberries—ripen “backward”! The tips ripen first and you have make sure the berry is deep blue all the way to the stem end. While my experience was helpful—I knew to look under leaves as well as looking from different angles to find the ripe berries that are sometimes hidden—I had to adapt to the new circumstances and the way these particular berries ripen.
What might look like a quick and easy project can turn into something a little bit more than what it originally appeared to be. Many berries that appeared ripe weren’t quite ready. I recognized that this project would take longer than what I had thought because I had to go slower and look closer at the berries in order to find the ripe ones.
Take your time.
I paid attention as I approached each bush because sometimes the poison ivy and sumac wasn’t easily visible. Also, because there were still a large number of unripe and nearly ripe berries, I had to go slowly looking for the ones that were ripe all the way to the stem end.
Ask the advice of people who have experience in the new place.
At one point, I was picking near one of the farmers who was gathering berries to sell at their farm stand and she was glad to share a few tips with me.
Have the correct tools.
Some people had on shorts but I was very glad I had on long pants because of the poison ivy and poison sumac. My legs were protected if I accidentally got too close to these plants. I also wore a hat and had put on my sunscreen and bug spray.
Respect your limitations.
There were some bushes that had quite a bit of poison ivy around the base, and some had poison sumac as well. While it was tempting to be very careful and pick the berries off these blueberry bushes—naturally, there were quite a few ripe ones!—I steered clear. The risk was high of inadvertently brushing against the poison ivy and poison sumac plants. A few handfuls of ripe berries didn’t seem worth the risk of spending weeks getting rid of a stubborn and uncomfortable poison ivy rash!
Make the most of what you can do.
There were plenty of bushes that were clear of poison ivy and poison sumac. With patience and giving myself the time, I was able to collect enough berries for my purposes!
Your homework today is to take your time; be patient! Keep an open mind, especially if you find yourself in a new situation!
You can do it!
I’m so proud of you!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,