When I lived in Florida, I was obsessed with seashells. It's only natural, I suppose, since Northern California beaches don't have much other than rocks, whereas the Gulf shore is filled with shells. Each beach had a little ridge of shells, about where high tide would hit. And I would sit for hours sorting through the shells, finding the best specimens. (The trouble was, of course, that there were so many "best specimens" that I ended up having two 12x12 boxes of seashells that I could not bear to part with when I moved away.)
My favorite part of the hunt was returning home and sitting on the balcony sorting through the shells. The spirals had to be separated from the scallops, and the best shells put aside for special display. I once found a seashell half the size of my pinkie fingernail.
Why, you ask, am I telling you about seashells? Well, this last Sunday, I made good on a promise, and went blueberry picking. It is actually the first time I have ever gone blueberry picking, and it is shockingly easy thing to do. I had no idea that the berries grew in big clusters, and that with one quick swipe of the hand, a dozen blueberries would fall--kerplunk kerplonk--down into your strategically placed bucket.
One happy hour later, and I had 20 pounds of blueberries. And all that time I was thinking about picking those seashells, and how easy that was, and how easy this was, and how all my favorite things seem to be a happy mix of ease and work. How strange that sounds, but it's true. Seashell hunting. Blueberry picking. Even making jam, though intense, is also easy and calming. The rhythm of stirring, the soothing smells, the deliberate procedure. But you also have to be patient, and that takes work. Work and east: a good recipe for life.
Sorting the blueberries, unlike sorting the seashells, is a real chore. Do you have any idea how many blueberries there are in 20 lbs? Like, five million blueberries. And I have to pick through them all, setting aside the green ones (which I will pickle) and the stems, and eating the really big sweet ones. (A little guiltily, since I know they would make amazing jam.)
But, oh I cannot wait to start making this jam. These blueberries are some of the best I've ever had, and they will make luscious jams. There will be a traditional blueberry, which has a hint of cinnamon and a touch of vanilla for warmth and roundness. And then I will make a blueberry balsamic, since I couldn't make strawberry balsamic. I actually think this will be loads better than a strawberry would be. I can't wait to share them with you! You can get updates on what jams I'm making by following the Jams by Mags facebook or twitter feeds
PS. My film camera is, alas, out of commission right now, so cell phone pics will have to do. Sorry for the poor quality.