Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blueberries for Sal (and us)

I absolutely adore this book. Margaret, my own little 'Sal,' and I used to sit out on the back steps of the shed to read Blueberries for Sal. That shed was torn down in 1992, but the memory of those steps and the sunlight and the feeling of the air as we sat side by side reading is as strong as if it were yesterday.

The book makes me ache with love and joy and longing and appreciation. I well up with tears when I read it now, just as I did then. Isn't it funny how some books will do this? It is a book about love. It is about sharing with a young child, and creating memories for both the mother and the child. And it is a book about blueberries. The mother and daughter go out blueberrying, while just on the other side of the hill, a mother bear and her cub are doing the same thing.

I can still hear Margaret saying, 'kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk'

And this kitchen. Isn't is just wonderful? Isn't it the kitchen of our dreams and memories even if we never grew up in such a space?

As I have mentioned here before, we are so, so lucky that a man just down the road grows blueberries.

Each year we buy as many as he can sell us. So far this year, we've bought fifteen quarts; eaten some and frozen most. During the rest of the year, each day I take out 1 cup, put 1/2 cup in two bowls, and let them sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning, Tom and I add our plain, homemade yogurt to the berries. Delicious and so good for body and soul!

We freeze them on cookie sheets first, and then put them in freezer bags

And we like them too! Antioxidants for dogs.


  1. I love the book Nan. I wish I could have read it to my children. I know this sounds odd but I have only just grown to like blueberries. My DB likes them so I have learned to like them too. I really like to make blueberry tea and have those little berries floating around in there. Guests love to dig those berries out of the bottom of the glass. :)

  2. I'm so glad you told me how to freeze them. I have a friend who just yesterday brought me a large sack full from his farm, along with a dozen farm fresh eggs! Perhaps a blueberry cake is in order?

  3. What a coincidence! David brought home 2 containers of fresh blueberries from work yesterday. Will eat some for lunch.

  4. Ah that's one of my all time favourite childhood books - along with Make Way for Ducklings :)

    I had fresh blueberries on m cereal this morning - delicious!

  5. I loved Blueberries for Sal! That's the same cover I remember, too. I just made a big fruit salad with lots of blueberries. Maybe I should freeze some this year...

  6. I am so jeleous that you can have fresh blueberries! Huhoney would die to have them! They are sooo expensive in the store and I just have to make my famous blueberrie dessert a couple of times a month! I will post it on my blog! It is so delicious...

  7. Hi Nan: Thanks for such a lovely post. It brought a little tear to my eye. I remember sitting on the front steps reading to my daughter as well. Wonderful memories to cherish.

  8. What a lovely post, Nan. I picked blueberries myself today, as a matter of fact - in the garden. We have just three bushes that are three years old and this is the first year they've produced enough to do anything with. I've frozen several bags and I also love putting them in jellies with frozen raspberries. That little book is delightful.

  9. Blueberries are one of summer's best pleasures. Lucky you to have them so close at hand!

    Dreamy kitchen, too.

  10. Thank you for this post. This was always one of my favorite books to read aloud to the [modern day] students in my school library. It is truly timeless, in spite of that wonderful old-fashioned kitchen. I could always count on a great reaction from the kids when Sal and the baby bear got their moms switched.

  11. Berry-picking is one of my earliest and favorite memories (only they were blackberries instead of blueberries). Thanks for reminding me with this lovely post.

  12. That is such an amazing header photo, Nan. I remember Blueberries for Sal. I loved it, too. We used to love going to pick blueberries in Michigan. It was our favorite fruit. Thanks for the memories. I sure wish we could have blueberry bushes in Hawaii.

  13. The second time this week I've seen this book mentioned! See here

    There's bound to be a third.

  14. I keep saying I'll find a way of reading one of the books I read to my children onto the blog - must move it higher up the list. There is something so special about loved and worn children's books.

  15. How lucky you are to have a blueberry farm right down the road! I love blueberries and John does not. I get them for myself and eat the whole thing!

  16. Oh, Nan ... How well I remember this book. I wonder if grandsons as well as granddaughters would like it? I've seen it at Barnes and Noble and thought about getting it but just wasn't sure.

    I agree with you about the kitchen. I would love to have a kitchen like that, but I'm not so sure about carrying wood in every day for that stove!

  17. I do understand, I well up when I see my children's favorite books too. I don't know Sal but Beatrix Potter Milly Molly Mandy and Peter Pan are all carefully preserved here.
    I have never eaten a blueberry, I don't think they are very common here in the U.K. I shall see if I can get some, are they eaten raw? Does one have to top and tail them? Ignorant or what!!


  18. There's a reason it's a classic...not merely classic children's lit, but a classic for all ages! Anyone not raised on Blueberries for Sal is/was severely deprived, in my opinion!
    Enjoy the sunshine, and your berries. A wonderful crop this year, isn't it?

  19. Nan,
    I absolutely loved reading your post this morning. What a wonderful way to get my day started because you made me smile. I remember reading this book so long ago but the images you created for me are wonderful. Those blueberries look delicious. I eat blueberries everyday with yogurt too!!!

  20. I got blueberries yesterday ... big ones

  21. Lisa, it isn't too late! I've never heard of blueberry tea.

    Pamela, there's a blueberry crunch that is my fave of all b. desserts. it's under 'fruit desserts' on the sidebar if you want to try it.:<)

    Gigi, that's great!

    Island Sparrow, have you also read his One Morning in Maine, which an older Sal with a little sister, Jane?

    JoAnn, they sure are a treat in February!

    Linda, do they not grow out there?

    Donna, I find that quite amazing that you read this on steps as well. This is the only book we ever read on those steps!

    Cath, aren't you lucky!!

    J.G., I just love the kitchen. I want to incorporate at least some part of it in mine. My Hoosier is sort of like the cupboard on the left in the picture.

    Clair, and he's got it all right in terms of nature. Bears do love blueberries (as do dogs!), and he mentions a crow family - this is just the time of year the crow families are out and about.

    Edelweiss Transplanted, I wonder how many people go berrying anymore. It used to be very common - the women would get containers and head off to often secret places. :<)

    Kay, is the weather just not right for blueberries?

    Call Me Madam, I went right over to her blog and commented. :<) Amazing.

    Scriptor Senex, I love so many children's books. I did an entry once on one I had loved as a kid, and will probably write more about the ones I loved with my own kids. Though I gave a lot away to the library book sale, I've still got a couple shelves worth. :<)

    Sherri, it isn't a farm. The man just has several bushes. Tom just picked up another four quarts!

    Jill, it's funny you wondering about that. As I wrote the post, I told Tom that I don't recall reading it with my son. I must have, but the memory with Margaret is the strong one. I have other special books that are connected with Michael. I'll write on one of them soon.
    We did have a wood cookstove. It was in the house when we bought it. Yes, it was gorgeous beyond words, but it ate up the wood. I spent all day filling it and keeping it going - a huge difference from the airtight woodstove we have now. We sold it to an antique store a few years ago for $500 and it is still in the store with a price tag of $2200!!

    Carole, I just read mention of Milly Molly Mandy on someone's blog. Blueberries must grow over there because a couple bloggers have recently talked about them. No topping and tailing - you just eat 'em. YUM! Not ignorant at all! There are a lot of foods I've never tasted. Let me know when you try them please.

    Margaret, it is such a love song to country life. The guy we buy them from says it is a great year. His are not the wild ones like Sal was picking but the cultivated, big plump berries.

    Staci, thank you. Your words made me very happy.

    JC, that's the difference between the wild ones and cultivated - the size!

  22. We also love "One Morning in Maine" and always yell "Clam Chowder for Lunch" when we get in our little boat each summer. We freeze blueberries as well. I need to get picking.

  23. This book is one of my all-time favorites. I need to get a copy for my grandchildren.

  24. I love it, too, Sarah. Both books are wonderful family stories.

    Maggi, it is a perfect book for you to read to them.

  25. I love blueberries! I have them in my yogurt almost every day. I make smoothies with them (and strawberries) several times a week. I have even started mixing them in with the strawberries in my cobbler. Delicious!!

    And what a gem of a book!

  26. Les, it is a wonderful book. I've got some Vermont, and some Canadian strawberries down in the freezer too. I'll check out the cobbler.

  27. Nan, Your blog is a delightful discovery! Thank you for finding mine as now I've found yours (and have shared with two New Hampshire friends at

    I just wanted to say, apart from BLUEBERRIES for SAL being my favorite childhood book (OK, well, it is right up there with THE LITTLE HOUSE by Virginia Lee Burton), that we had a Newfoundland dog who used to go to the woods with me when we'd pick high bush blueberries back on our NH farm. He'd not only eat them from my hand but would go to a bush where he could reach and eat them right off the bush himself!

    We've planted 12 blueberry bushes here in KY, where they surprisingly grow, but nothing like a wild NH blueberry...

    Best, Catherine

  28. Catherine, we had a Belgian Sheepdog, Lucy who would go out picking the wild ones with us. She ate more than we did. Now that I buy them from our neighbor, I can't feed these dogs, Sadie and Ben, fast enough. :<) I'll check out the cupcakes blog.

  29. A late comment but I just came across this in Antia Shreve's 'The Weight of Water'. I wonder if it is the same book?
    "I settle her into her berth and sit next to her. She has asked for a story, so read her a picture book tale of a mother and her daughter gathering blueberries in Maine.”

  30. That IS the book! Isn't reading just the best thing. Thank you for taking the time to let me know.


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