Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | May 27, 2009

The Time Machine

Blueberry FieldsI was out on a long, pounding bicycle ride the other day, several miles from home and even further from the cares of the day.  I was riding along a country road when suddenly an odd—but familiar—aroma piqued my sense of smell.  Immediately I was transported back in time some forty years.  It was 1968, or maybe ’69 or ’70.  The Vietnam War was raging; the Beatles were still supreme on the pop music scene; LBJ was still president, but had announced he would not run again for president—or maybe we were already into a young Nixon presidency; and there I was, a young fellow just entering my teenage years, oblivious to much of what was happening in the world around me.  I was in my own world, and I was at that moment standing in the middle of a vast field of blueberry bushes, pail in hand, ready to begin the workday on my summer job.

On this particular day, my picking-partner (and still a close friend) and I showed up around eight- or nine-o’clock fully intending to put in a full day’s work in the field.  We could make good money if we worked fast and kept at it.  We would fill a 7-¼-pound bucket in about an hour and get paid 12 to 14 cents a pound, which translated to perhaps 90 cents or so an hour—not a bad wage for that time for a couple of kids trying to earn a little spending money on their summer vacation.

Well, we weren’t destined to make much money this day.  We had picked up our pails at the blueberry shed, found a spot to pick, and perhaps had filled half a bucket, when we decided that the weather was humid and uncomfortable, the bugs were thick, the pickings looked slim, and we would rather be off playing somewhere else.  I don’t think we picked for even half an hour.  We left the field for more pleasant pastures elsewhere and never looked back.  We didn’t have a lot of money to spend that summer, but we sure had a lot of fun!

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Responses

  1. Isn’t it funny how a certain smell, or an old song, or even how the angle of the sunlight as it’s filtered through the clouds over a field can trigger a memory?

    In this case, your story triggered a few memories for me. After Dad retired from the Air Force, we moved on to the family centennial farm, and my folks entered this whole back-to-nature phase. We worked summers tending Mom’s massive gardens for the produce we could sell, raising chickens and rabbits for sale, collecting eggs, pickin’ crawlers after dark… it all meant money for new school clothes in the fall.

    But my favorite “job” was collecting golf balls from the creek behind the barn because it was a great excuse to roll up my pants and go wading on a hot day. The balls would be carried downstream from the golf course up the road. They would pay us so much a bucket for the balls we returned. At one time I knew every swirl and eddy in that creek, knew just where those balls would gather. Every so often I would hit the motherload, and I was RICH!

    BTW, we couldn’t blow off our summer jobs so easily as you. Dad would have tanned our backsides!

    Thanks for the flashbacks. 🙂

  2. Reading this, one would wonder where the strong work ethic I possess today came from. I suppose it just took a while for the Dutch genes to kick in and begin doing their job.

    BTW — Love the golf ball story!


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