Blueberries

Posted by on June 11, 2009

So precise, deliberate and delicate. My grandson, Elias, sits unwavering in his focus. A one-year-old Zen master whose meditation target rests lightly on his highchair tray before him. A food mantra that he comprehends completely. Deep blue and succulent, the organic blueberries wait in stillness. Then small fingers form the thumb-to-forefinger blueberry pickup. Slowly and without hesitancy each blueberry is lifted carefully to his mouth as the most precious of nature’s bounty, created particularly for babies. With the aid of four teeth and empty gums, the blueberry is thoughtfully mooshed and disappears. Plump and succulent berry becomes plump and huggable baby. He zeros in on the next waiting morsel, like a fat baby bird learning the art of getting dinner down the hatch. What greater honor could be gifted the final moment of any blueberry? After traveling hundreds of miles from field to market, that blueberry has arrived at its final destiny. A sacred demise, not to be confused with the common bustle afforded restaurant berries or gobbled breakfast routines. No, here in our quiet dining room, each blueberry is lifted up as a gift from God, then savored, relished fully and polished off with aplomb.

I am thinking of my own blueberry childhood. I smell my Grandma Eva’s blueberry pies cooling on the window ledge beside the scarlet potted geranium. Perhaps blueberries from a can, but fresh and tasty to me and my grandfather, who insisted on blueberry pie a la mode. About halfway through my pie-baking career, I remembered those Grandma Eva pies and began adding them to my holiday dinner options, feeling the circle come round.

I am thinking of grocery shopping at Safeway yesterday. The organic produce section had–sure enough–more fresh blueberries, each small carton worth its weight in gold. I bought one, of course, wondering if blueberries in April will become my secret baby reminder and a must-have.

I am thinking of Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who would hold up a blueberry and say something like, “In this blueberry is the whole world. In this blueberry is the soil from which it grew, the sun that shone on the mother plant, the rain that watered it, and the wind that blew through its leaves. In this blueberry are the hopes and dreams of the farmer and his family who grew this berry, and the hopes and dreams of the families who picked and processed it. In this blueberry are the truck drivers and the gas stations that got it to market and the grocery store personnel who put it out on the shelf. In this blueberry is the fascination of a small child picking it up like the first taste of forever.”

Blueberries and grandmothers and kitchens and Zen masters and babies. Old fingers rolling out pie dough. Small fingers gathering up blue magic. In this baby-with-blueberry moment, the whole world comes in out of the cold and quietly finds a place by the fire. Over this treasured weekend with Elias, my daughter and son-in-law, blueberries have become woven into the sweet, fruity fabric of the generations wrapped in the essence of an intent small boy with only one thing on his mind. It looks like eating dinner, but I think it is actually the “Blueberry Meditation for Contented Living.”

In this blueberry is the whole world…..

By Marcia Beachy, April 2009