Have I stepped into another century?
I am ambling down the wooded dirt road to Restoration Farm, when I stop abruptly. Standing some twenty feet in front of me is a blue-coated Union soldier holding a rifle. A little girl –perhaps 4-years old – dressed in a country smock, her head covered in blonde ringlets, accompanies him. It is a strange vision. She says “Good morning.” He doesn’t seem to notice me, and takes a drink from his canteen. She wanders over to admire the patch of sunflowers.
Normally I would attribute this scene to the fact that Restoration Farm shares land with a mid-19th century historic village. One will often hear the sound of gunshots and encounter reenactors of Civil War history. Yet, when I turn back for another glance, I don’t see the soldier and child. Were they apparitions? Did they disappear into the woods, or bygone days?
I can’t quite shake the image of the soldier in his dark blue shell jacket as I head for the berry patch. The blueberries of Restoration Farm have come in. At one point in my hectic life, the idea of picking blueberries on a Saturday morning might have seemed just as unlikely as the possibility of encountering a Union soldier on a dirt road. Yet, Restoration Farm reminds us that the simple pleasures in life – like picking a pint of tart, juicy blueberries on a summer morning – are still there for our enjoyment.
The bushes are thick with clusters of blueberries. Planted in 2009, this is the first year the blueberries have yielded significant fruit. Head grower Caroline Fanning is happy that the blueberries are thriving. Planting the bushes was a grueling project, she recalls. These blueberries symbolize the kind of patience needed when one believes in seasonality.
The rows of bushes smell of fresh mulch as I stoop to pick the dark blue berries. Like the encounter with the soldier, the act of foraging for ripe blueberries is a snapshot in time, a moment to remember – a moment to simply be.
So how might I enjoy Restoration Farm’s first significant harvest of blueberries? These bright, tart berries should be served in a decidedly old-fashioned way, perhaps in a vessel that the Union soldier might have used to cook over an open hearth.
Makes two individual pancakes served in mini cast iron skillets
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
½ cup all purpose flour
1/8 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup blueberries plus more for topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend together eggs, milk, flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a blender.
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