Monday Notes: Blueberries

I moved to Covert, Michigan to live with my grandparents the summer of 1990, June to be exact. I was seventeen. My grandmother had tasked me with finding a job for the summer, and when I wasn’t successful, she decided I would make money working on her friend’s blueberry farm.

I’d like to remind you that I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago. I had never seen a fruit farm. However, my grandmother has also never been the type of person with whom you argue, especially not at seventeen. So, I put on my designer jeans and straw-brimmed hat (the kind you wear by a pool), and I rode with her to the farm.

Someone had decided it was a great idea for me to actually pick the blueberries. I grew more miserable as I rolled each blue ball between my fingers and dropped it into the pail. How did I get here? What can I do to not be here? That’s all I kept thinking.

Around noon, my grandmother’s friend came to get me. Apparently, I wasn’t picking fast enough for a profit margin. She thought it best to move me inside, where her family worked to check for bad fruit and pack the good ones. Although I was no longer picking, I still lamented my current position. What am I doing sitting in this shed packing blueberries? I should be home. I should be hanging out with my friends at Water Tower.

I don’t remember why, but I didn’t have to return the next day. I’m assuming it’s because I wasn’t very good at it or maybe someone noticed I did more daydreaming than packing.

Decades went by, and I refused to eat blueberries. No blueberry pie. No blueberry jam. No blueberry muffins. You know how they give you a fruit cup at a restaurant? I’d eat everything, except the blueberries. It wasn’t that blueberry picking was so horrible. It was more that the circumstances surrounding how I ended up living in Covert (i.e., my mother dying and my father kicking me out of the house) and completing senior year there incensed me to my core. Blueberries reminded me of that year and the one before it, and for a long time, that experience was something I didn’t want to even think about, let alone eat.

I want to be super clear here. I didn’t consciously stop eating blueberries.

One day someone asked, “You want some blueberries?”

And I said, “Nope. No, thank you.”

I didn’t offer an explanation or biographical context. No one would ever know that I avoided this small, blue fruit because it triggered me in inexplicable ways. It’s something I unconsciously chose.

Today, I am fully aware that I made blueberries the issue, instead of recognizing the issue as the issue. People do this all the time, though. I don’t want to get all psychology here, but it is related to our amygdala and triggers, which can range from seeing blueberries to seeing someone raise their fist in anger.

There is always hope, though. As I began to heal from each phase of abandonment, I no longer avoided blueberries. First, I used frozen ones for smoothies. I mean, baby steps, right? Recently, I’ve begun buying them fresh from the store and popping them in my mouth for a snack. They’re not so bad. I see why they’re popular.

I suppose we all have our own “blueberries.” The key is when you realize what they are, to seek help as soon as possible. Otherwise, the next thing you know, you’re out here avoiding blueberries and missing out on delicious fruits 😉


91 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Blueberries

  1. Good essay and I get it. There are something’s I’ve never loved – oatmeal – and never touch. Not because there’s a grudging memory attached, but out of honesty. A lifetime ago, I was in the Army. It was wonderful and not. When I got out, I swore off green. As in, I would not, could not wear it. About five years ago, I picked it up again because it is actually a color I LOVE that suits me. There was a bit of reframing involved in my mind to un-associate it with the Army, and connect it with nature and money which I also love.

    Liked by 1 person

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    Liked by 1 person

  4. “*Blueberries* comprise many sweet treats
    *&* *Bluebeery Cobbler is delicious tast-bud sweet-tooth unforgettable
    not to mention that blueberries are health *&* wellness healthy.”
    _-Van Prince

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can imagine as a kid growing up blueberry picking wouldn’t rank high on your list Kathy and it left a “bad taste”.. love how you’ve become aware and are able to enjoy them some now. I’m not a huge fan but I too feel they’re not bad and they have huge health bennies!!💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kathy, this was an amazing post! I loved hearing your honest and relatable childhood struggles. You obviously made it through and triumphed and I love that about your story! I know I definitely do the same with similar things in my life representing a particularly difficult time in my journey. I, too, don’t eat blueberries but for very different reasons lol… I don’t like things of that colour and shape (unfortunately, I am what you would label as a picky eater)! Thanks again for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have similar issues with Thanksgiving tbh , I don’t like the holiday much as that was when my Mom passed . Thankfully over the years I was able to kind of get through some of it since my dog was born on Thanksgiving, so it’s his birthday and he brings me joy✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand how that would be problematic. I could get away from blueberries. You had to contend with an entire holiday and the season and all that it’s supposed to be. I’m sorry to hear that.

      But, yes to Roxas ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sadly, our country is incapable of raising blueberries. We only import from the US, but still, I have never eaten a blueberry in my whole life. But, we do include other fruits on our table especially when we celebrate Christmas and New Year with the whole family. Fruits somehow remind me of the celebrations I always spend with my loved ones. I hope to include blueberries in our future occasions.
    I enjoyed reading about your experience. Glad you finally are getting well in facing blueberries. 😉😉😊

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As a child, I had to take liquid Geritol. I hated that brown bottle and orange label, lol, because of the horrible taste of the liquid inside. Now as an adult, I still have to take iron supplements, BUT not liquid Geritol. Orange and brown are now two of my favorite colors!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I completely agree, we all have our own “blueberries.” We don’t all learn to identify them, or recover from them, sadly, so I love how you are sharing your stories through your blog. It gives others the chance to be inspired to face down their own blueberries…..

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Your posts are always so thought-provoking, Katherin. I wracked my brain to figure out what food might be triggering for me. From reading comments, I’m not alone in avoiding a food that I once was sick with – mine was Chop Suey. But that is not the same as your situation, with emotional angst. Now my daughter hated fruits and vegetables growing up. I found a couple of things she would barely tolerate, so I made her eat those things before she could have her favorite foods (such as chicken nuggets.) To this day, she won’t eat watermelon and I know it’s because of this. It’s a good thing we can talk about her trauma, and it was interesting that the child of mine who hated fruits and vegetables, learned to love them. Though she still won’t have pea soup or watermelon!
    Great post, as always, and I’m glad you are able to enjoy blueberries. I have some every morning. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Judy ❤

      So, I think it doesn't have to be food related, but just triggering to the point where you don't want to engage, like one person talked about disliking summer!

      I remember having chop suey in elementary school – bleh!

      I'm glad you and your daughter are able to have open (and I'm assuming) loving conversations about her trauma…that's what's most important, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a powerful post, Kathy. We all have our blueberries, and many of us haven’t realized it. But recognizing, claiming, and understanding our blueberries is the only way to heal. It’s a bumpy journey. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Oh yes, we are a curious lot, and especially when it comes to food, we have our pet aversions. Mine was sour gurken, they were part of my school lunch! My mother was fanatical about pickled gurken’s, believing in their medicinal properties, storing jars to the brim in our basement at the end of summer. Fortunately, my girlfriend at school was similar obsessed and I could win favours with her with a regular supply chain.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Kathy, your essay is very well written. I enjoyed your meditation on blueberries. Sorry for the difficult family times, losing your mother and father when you were 17. Glad you have healed enough to let blueberries into your life from time to time. This would be an awesome memoir chapter.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Haha! I love crab legs, but I think I’d be okay if I couldn’t eat them. I’ll still have my other favorite seafood. Lol! Now my mom on the other hand?! That lady would not last two months. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Katherin, thank you for sharing this story about your longtime blueberry-induced amygdala hijack, the link was a good one for placing the phenomenon in context. It’s one of those things I think a lot of people can totally identify with on different levels but that they maybe don[t fully understand the physiological/psychologcial or neurological contexts around it, that there’s a science we can use to understand it. I definitely have some triggers, some humorous. But some painful reminders. You’re so right, we do all have our own blueberries.

    By the way, sorry if I ever inadvertently put an e on the end of your name. Pesky spell check is always trying to put the e on the end of Katherin but I will not let it do that to you! Hope you had a good weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. It is so true how deeply we are imprinted with the circumsatnces and experiences in our life – a simple blueberry doesn’t remain just that anymore. I can relate to how emotional healing brings change in so many seemingly mundane choices.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Amazing article, loved this! Thank you for sharing about your past. I’m so sorry about your mother, and the situation with your father. And I LOVE this story because you take something that seems like nothing and go deeper with it. And I believe there is so much depth under so many things. So this article really spoke to me. And good for you for giving blueberries a chance. Seriously, I know what a big deal that is. I’m the same with the season of summer but I’ve been outgrowing it in the last few years. Yay growth!! 🫐 🌞

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Awww thank you, Libby! I’m glad this spoke to you, and I’m glad you get it. Our lives and all of its experiences affect us in ways we cannot seem to comprehend, let alone verbalize.

      One day summer will be an awesome season for you, or at the least, just another season 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Associations are like that, tough to explain and break. Like you said. It’s not conscious. A friend of mine was sick all through her pregnancies and lived on saltines and broth. She can’t stand either of those things to this day as she associates them with throwing up and feeling terrible. After a sinusitis that lasted a whole winter, I felt my head plug up if I caught even a whiff of eucalyptus (VapoRub, cough drops, etc). I can’t eat American cheese without getting choked up over my deceased dog; it was his favorite. The association is problematic, not the cheese. Understanding the “why” is crucial in getting past these aversions. Glad you are able to enjoy blueberries again.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. So, can I get a hug? Thank you for sharing such this experience. For me, it is confirmation that I am not alone in my experiences. This resonates on many levels for many reasons and although it wasn’t blueberries for me, there was clear avoidance for years as I was fully aware of the bigger issue and was simply being stubborn. Also a similar reason I ended up in Saginaw Michigan around the same time and haven’t been back in 25 years.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Sending you a virtual hug, right…now…TW!

      You’re welcome. You are definitely not alone in any experience, and I hope, that if nothing else, my writing shows this for anyone reading.

      Saginaw??? So, you pretty much know exactly what and where I’m talking about. Crazy how the internet brings people together like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What a brilliant post about our amazing ability to bury what we don’t want to face. And how the courage to pull on the associations that leads to healing that can open our minds, hearts — and mouths! Beautiful and inspirational, Kathy!

    Liked by 4 people

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