Rebecca Brothers's Reviews > The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family

The Blueberry Years by Jim Minick
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's review
Aug 27, 11

it was amazing
Read from August 08 to 26, 2011

"[Berries] seem offered to us not so much for food as for sociality, inviting us to a picnic with Nature. We pluck and eat in remembrance of her. It is a sort of sacrament--a Communion--the not forbidden fruits, which no serpent tempts us to eat." --Henry David Thoreau, Autumnal Tints, 1862.

Sometimes it's just lovely to move inside someone's world for a spell. I usually do this by reading fiction, by escaping into a pretend but parallel world that allows me to get away from my own for a bit. And while I perennially chide myself for my lack of interest in non-fiction, I have to say that this year has allowed me to live inside some pretty cool places. I started with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (a wonderful book and one that has sparked more than a little debate in my own home!). More have followed, and I'm not sad. Last night I closed Jim Minick's The Blueberry Years and sighed a little, like I have every night since I started this book, at the thought of all those long hours until breakfast. I've been scarfing down blueberries like a mad woman since Minick's poetic prose began to take hold of me.

Poet, scholar, farmer, and writer, Minick takes us along on his blueberry quest. He and his sweet wife want a simpler life, one that will allow them to live as "homesteaders," close to, from, and connected with their land. They want to grow their own food, raise their mutts in peace, and commune with nature and their art. What follows is an engaging narrative of their adventures in blueberry farming, complete with reflections on their pickers (Mennonites, hippies, and real estate moguls). His dogs even learn to pick the berries--they sidle up to a bush, sniff for the ripe ones, and then slobber their harvest into the muzzles. Minick is a poet; his collections read like a rich cobbler--layered, surprising bursts of flavor, comforting, filling. And so does this memoir, arranged around scientific explanations, the anthropology of berry-picking, and song lyrics: I found my thrill...

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