Blueberry Picking in Coastal Maine: Filling Buckets at Spiller Farm
The blueberry bushes in the grove where my Dad and I went blueberry picking were older than me– dozens of native Maine cultivars that Jim Spiller planted on a whim in 1982, after a friend gave him a bunch of blueberry rootstock that he only planted because he didn’t know what else to do with them. Today, Maine produces 99% of blueberries grown in the United States, and Spiller Farm is just one of several beautiful coastal groves where you can pick your own during National Blueberry month.
Something I didn’t know before coming here is that blueberries ripen after you pick them if you leave them out of the fridge– they’re like bananas or avocados in that way, wherein the fruit only gets sweeter and more lush with time (as long as the underside of the berry is red or white, rather than green). My Dad and I were on opposite sides of the same tree and picking our way towards each other when he commented– almost at the same time as I became aware of it– about the peaceful silence in the brambles.
To get to the blueberries we had to walk down a path through an old growth forest and into the field that abuts it. As a result of its position away from the road, the blueberry patch is relatively silent, other than the ambient birdsong and a sea breeze that constantly rustles through the leaves. There was even a sign that said “kindly keep your voice low– other pickers will appreciate it”, which speaks to the cosmic solitude of Spiller Farm. A really endearing retiree from Quebec who we encountered later on in the patch told us that she loves coming to the field to pick blueberries late at night, when the wild turkeys are out– an agreeable vision that struck me as profound while we meandered our way back home through the woods.