Late July is a great time for canoe tripping in the border country—the lakes are warm enough for long swims, the black flies are mostly gone, the mosquitoes usually don’t come out until sunset, and the blueberries are ripe. Picking blueberries always reminds me of the year we transformed our canoe tripping style due to the birth of our baby. We slowed way down, taking more satisfaction in a comfortable campsite than in making miles. There were frequent breaks for nursing, diaper changing, or just plain fussiness that seemed to indicate a desire for a change of scenery. In camp we alternated between parenting, camp chores, and catching up on sleep and personal time.
We had committed to introducing solid food as late as possible, but our five-month-old was beginning to reach for the food on our plates, a behavior indicating it might be time to consider something more than mother’s milk, according to the baby books. At our favorite Russell Lake campsite in Quetico, we found a granite outcropping bursting with blueberries. Usually we are in hand-to-mouth berry-eating mode on a canoe trip. The berries are so delicious sun-warmed right off the bush that we don’t tend to save them for a meal back in camp. But these were so abundant that we picked extra to add to our granola the next morning.
Spotting the blue gems in my bowl, Baby grabbed a few and aimed that tiny hand toward that tiny mouth. Yikes! Probably a choking hazard!! So I mashed a few and offered them from my finger.
“Jubilant” is not too strong a word for the ensuing reaction. Like a baby bird as a parent approaches with food, this baby had no trouble communicating “More! More!” We tried to tame that response—this was the first solid food. How would it be tolerated? Could there be allergies? I’d never heard of anyone being allergic to blueberries, but I’d also never heard of blueberries being a child’s first solid food.
We were a bit cautious for a few days, although the expressions of displeasure at being denied more was hard to take. With no repercussions other than diapers filled with a green seedy substance, Baby ate blueberries until the “More” action stopped.
A year later, on Sarah Lake, the one-and-a-half year old toddler ate all the berries those little hands could grab, plus at least half of what we picked. Doing a bit of math as I picked, I figured that if Daddy had eaten the same proportion of his body weight in blueberries as our little one had eaten that day, he would have consumed 1/3rd of his body weight. Yep! That’s about sixty pounds. Thank goodness, our toddler was out of diapers by then….
That baby, now 20-something, is still an avid berry picker and eater.