Sunday, August 12, 2012

On August 12th, 2012, I see swallows flying on the 54rd day of summer. On the day of the swallow I can't identify, your summer has 40 days left, and only 40 days left.


I could use a pair of binoculars with the digital camera inside. I
could take pictures and compare them against images from the Wikipedia
and images from the Audubon society. I can't call them barn swallows
because I see no blue in their top feathers. The swallows have not the
trailing feathers. I can't call them bank swallows because bank
swallows seem to be a bird of Europe. I am tending to call them
Northern Rough-Winger Swallows, but the jet like silhouette of the
swallows I see flying overhead doesn't match the silhouette of the
birds in the reference pictures. I guess that I should also go out
with an experienced birder and see if I can learn to see how the
experienced birder sees.

I was biking out at the Lakes Mall, and after an hours at Starbucks, I
wanted to bike to a destination. I was thinking Hoffmaster State Park,
but I was diverted when I noticed a sign for a farm stand. I had
visited that stand once last year, and I made for it. I was certain it
would be closed, but a car stood in the lot and a woman was sitting on
a lawn chair under the tent. The blueberries are still ripening on the
bushes, but her owner told her the you-pick would only last another
week. Then he'll send the plucking machine through the bushes,
removing ripe and green berries. So, that means two or three weeks of
fresh berries straight from the bush.Then we have to rely upon the
refrigerated supply. She was working her smart phone compulsively,
keeping up a nice conversation with me but flipping through her
timeline. The owner is planning on keeping the stand open until
Halloween, selling pumpkins and corn shocks and gourds. So she'll have
a job until the end of Indian Summer and the beginning of November. It
always seems that women working at farm stands are living through a
transition. She had just moved back from Las Vegas, returning home to
the grandmother who had helped raise her. She was hoping to raise her
daughter in the less complicated city of Fruitport. I met a woman a
year ago, almost to the day, who was selling sweet corn in the farmers
market of Durand, Michigan. She too had taken the job after arriving
to her parent's home, taking a few months to catch a breath and sort
life out. It takes a special kind of person to work a seasonal stand,
when the work cannot be permanent.

I bought a quart of blueberries from her, and she transferred the
berries from the basket to a plastic bag and then gave me a Wesco
plastic shopping bag with handles. The handles I could put over the
handles of my bicycle I didn't want the berries to bump against my
spokes, so I had to hang the bag high. I really need to buy a shopping
car or a pannier for my bicycle. After losing my padded seat after
putting my bike on the bus rack, I'm not sure I want to invest in too
much equipment. I stopped in at the Old Homestead, and I brought the
fruit in with me and placed the bag on the counter. I ordered a
Rolling Rock. Angie, the bartender who makes all the beautiful
cheesecakes during the Christmas Season, told all of us how she fell
over as she walked along last night, watching the heavens for a
shooting star. She laughed as hard as I have ever seen her laugh when
I told her that was the literary definition of a philosopher. Head in
the stars, falling into a hole.

Got talking to a woman with blond hair about Fruitport, and how
Fruitport wasn't so great for peaches because of the killing frosts.
One killing frost wiped out almost all the trees in the 19th Century,
a story recounted on a plaque in Pomona Park. "So we started to grow
blueberries!" she exclaimed. She's been buying blueberries all season,
picking them by the six quart box herself. She loved to save the
strawberries for freezer jam, but she could nibble her way through a
box of blueberries in a few days. When I told her that they'll be
sending pickers through the you pick fields by the mall, she winced.
"I hate when those pickers leave a green berry in the mix!" I wonder
if she has Blueberry Haven in Grand Haven on speed dial for the
out-of-season snacking.

I usually bike down to Grand Haven on Sunday nights and bike back
late, but that encounter with the police officer has me spooked. Maybe
after I buy my bike a light for night traveling I will.

No comments: