There’s a story I read or heard once about the actor Liam Neeson (he of the unmistakable voice and beautifully craggy face): When he was growing up and feeling maudlin, his mother would tell him to go outside and split some wood. And sure enough, having completed a useful task and worn-out by physical activity in the fresh air, the young Liam Neeson would return home cured of whatever ache had made him blue or sentimental. DISCLAIMER: It is possible that this story is about another actor entirely and so, if you are Liam Neeson and reading this and wondering why your name is being used, I apologize and ask that you not sue me for libel.
Everyone handles grief, stress and pain differently. I need to talk about it – to tell the story and get it out of my head, where the sadness or worry can sometimes spin a tale that makes it all that much worse. Long walks are good, too. Friends and family around a table laughing are excellent medicine, as well. And while I’ve never split wood, I now know that picking blueberries on a summer morning is a useful task that can help set the soul back on track.
A customer who has become a friend of my mother’s has blueberry bushes in her garden. We trade wine and dinners at barVino for the pints of blueberries my mother picks throughout the week. I joined her last week looking for a bit of respite from the constant chatter in my head. It was a little thing, this time in the sun with my mother, drinking our coffee as we plucked purply-blue berries and talked. But it was enough help me take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment. No chatter, no worry, no ache. And that was more than enough.
So we came home with a bucket and bowl full of berries that would become toppings, sauces and fillings under my mother’s skillful hands. I, less ambitious than my mother, discovered that fresh blueberries are delicious when plopped into a Champagne flute and covered with sparkling wine. The berries floated, the bubbles floated upwards, I sipped and smile.