Monday, July 22, 2013

Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries!

As my garden has not been especially productive this year, I had few qualms about leaving it for two weeks with only an occasional water by the neighbors who were caring for the cats. We might lose a few beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, but those would not be missed. No, it was the blueberries that I mourned, because I had been watching them grow for a month, weighing the branches of the three bushes my parents had presented us with upon buying the house. I worried that there would not be enough rain for the shrubs, as they have only had 8 months to root. I thought for sure the birds would find the berries, as they would ripen before our return. I was sorry for not telling the neighbors to help themselves… until we returned. And then I wasn’t sorry at all. Our three little bushes yielded a whole big bowl of sweet giant blueberries that leave the mouth blue and the stomach asking for more. It’s blueberry season.

Of course the one bowl didn’t last long, and in order to fulfill demand for the pancakes and muffins I’ve had to turn to farms like Blueberry Hill, but we are celebrating the return of the superberry. And what better way to celebrate than the 3rd annual blueberry festival at Roper Mountain Science Center. The same educational center that often pulls us to the butterfly garden, and that boasts the annual Holiday Lights and Green Halloween holds this celebration of all things blueberry. It took place on July 13th this year, and turned out to be a great outing for our family despite the rain.

We started in the Hall of Natural Science & Technology where we learned about vermiculture (worm farming) and bees. There are always fun arts & crafts at the science center, this time it was making butterflies  (pollinators of the blueberries along with the bees) out of filter paper, dye and water. We also saw the aquatic room for the first time, and Lauris bravely touched the manta rays. Mikus liked the mammals better, he could have spent hours playing with the rabbit. And although both were fascinated by the various snakes, neither wanted to touch, which I’m glad for considering the occasional appearance a black rat snake makes in the garden.

On our way to the Living History Farm we looking at the various stands set up by vendors and sponsors of the event, and listened to some live bluegrass music, which was even more enjoyable with an ice cream cone in hand. But by far the favorite area was the farm; between the farm animals in the barn, the giant garden and woodworking with Home Depot, they would have gladly stayed for hours.

The woodworking didn’t quite stick to blueberry theme, as the boys made a helicopter and a birdhouse, but they sure enjoyed it. Lauris was able to participate in more of the hammering/gluing than Mikus, and while he was busy painting all the various creations Mikus ran wild in the garden. At this point the rain started, and while we could hide for a while under the pop up tents, at a certain point we decided it was time to start heading out. (And somehow during all this we missed the pie-eating contest, which I surely would have won if it was blueberry pie….)

As we aren’t members of the Roper Mountain Science Center there was a fee to enter ($6/adult, children under 4 free), but the boys had a blast (and hopefully learned something). There were blueberry bushes, berries and various blueberry products for sale, but plenty of activities and crafts to keep the kids busy. We’ll be back again next year – now, to resume my search for recipes utilizing blueberries!

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