It was a quiet morning in the blueberry patch at the Pick-Your-Own farm nearby. As my sister and I were picking in separate areas of the patch, and the birds were chirping away, I thought about what I was doing and how I was doing it. Here are my lessons from blueberry picking.
1. Take a minute to survey the field and then just jump in. You could stare at the bushes forever looking for the best area to begin, with the most ripe berries.
2. The berries that are ripe should come off the bush pretty easily. If you have to pull too hard on a berry, it is probably not ready.
3. The next bush over may or may not be better than the one you are working on – sometimes it is just the angle of view.
4. Look inside the bush and down low near the ground to find the berries others have missed.
5. Keep changing your perspective by shifting a bit to the left and right. The best way to see the most berries is to view the bush from different perspectives.
6. Do not always trust the experts. The bushes they direct you to may be the best for picking, but their information may not be the most up to date. Do not be afraid to check other areas for yourself. Berries ripen at different rates, with new ones ripening each day. It is hard to stay on top of the situation.
7. Try to check the whole berry – sometimes the outside is ripe but underneath is still red.
8. Know that you will drop some and pick some that are not perfectly ripe. Nobody is perfect. Make muffins with the less ripe and let the birds have the ones that you cannot find.
9. Some days are just better than others, but if you leave with a bucket of fresh picked berries, it is worth it.
10. Time to reflect is a wonderful gift. Take it where you can get it.
In thinking about blueberry picking, it occurred to me that it was not a bad metaphor for teaching. So many things circle back to teaching and learning. I feel so fortunate to have made it my work to be part of something so essential.