Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blueberries, Blown Glass and Baby Bluebirds

My life started getting significantly better on Thursday, when I enjoyed a lovely adventure with Dan and our friends, Jeff and Stephanie. The four of us drove out to Grass Lake to pick organic blueberries at a place named (appropriately) The Blueberry Patch. When we arrived, we pulled into a small, grassy lot beside an old-fashioned steel trailer with a pick-up window on its side. There we found the proprietors, Mr. and Ms. Toth - she a soft spoken farm woman and he a goofy, bearded, old hippie. Spotting Jeff's ample beard, Mr Toth shouted, "Hey, it looks like me coming up to the window!" He was a crack-up, spouting non-sequitirs like, "God took one look at me and said, 'You get nothin' retard!' and that's how I wound up looking like this." I could tell right away that we had found a very special place.

The patch itself was a bit of heaven. I had never seen blueberry shrubs before. These were a bit taller than me, covered in shiny, lush green leaves. The verdant hedgerows, the canopy of bird-proof netting overhead and the absence of any other visitors created a very cozy, bucolic setting. The patch had been open for only four days, but already the most easily accessible shrubs were thoroughly picked over. So the four of us pushed our way through narrowing aisle ways, in search of abundant fruit. In little time, I was alone and chest-high in a sea of berries, which ranged from hard, pale, and unripe to a dark, succulent blue. Despite the thickening foliage, my quest for ripe fruit became a compulsion. I dove under shrubs and wove my way up through the branches, grabbing every navy-colored berry I could reach. It was exhilarating! It's the closest I've ever come to literal tree-hugging... more like shrub-groping, I suppose. Eventually, the intense glare of the sunlight on the leaves overcame my greed for berries - I think that maybe my eyeballs got sunburned - and alas, I had to emerge from the patch.

We went to settle our our purchase at the trailer - which doubles as a diner - and sampled some of the Toth's deep-fried cinnamon donuts, fresh brewed coffee, and blueberry smoked barbecue chicken. Yes, the chicken tasted like blueberres. It was magical.

From there we headed northeast, past Dexter, to a refurbished lakeside cottage. This was the home of a man who I'll call Fred. Fred is an acquaintance of Stephanie, an older gentleman who is an avid collector of glass and ceramic. His home is a shrine to decorative arts, a mini Victoria and Albert Museum. The man has a room full of Tiffany lamps. I can't imagine the monetary worth of his collection. He showed us a brilliantly colored ceramic Eucharist server that came from the Vatican and also pointed to a piece of pottery that was crafted in the late 1600s. What amazes me is that I sense this man genuinely loves every one of the hundreds of articles he owns. You can tell that he is an extremely warm person.

My favorite space was the burgundy carpeted Rose Room, the walls of which were filled with shelves of rose colored glassware. Fred was so generous in sharing his home with us, showing us each room and his favorite pieces within. He encouraged us to handle some of the pieces, especially the peach blown glassware, which felt just like silk.

Fred had recently added another very different novelty to his collection. He installed a tiny video camera inside his backyard bluebird house. We sat in his kitchen, watching a live video feed of the mama bird tending to her babies. It was the best, most utterly absorbing show I've seen on TV in ages. Every time mama bird returned to the nest with a bit of grass or a worm, the little ones screeched and begged, their little mouths agape, downy feathers mussed. I don't completely understand the beauty in that desperate, frenzied image, and yet it was beautiful.

It was the perfect end to an intensely sensual journey.


  1. Sounds like a great time. And this was beautifully written, too!

  2. Aw, shucks! Thanks, Saladin : )