I've always been a fall girl for blueberries. Addict. Obsessive-compulsive. Possessed.
I'll walk 10 miles for fresh sweet blueberries.
In fact, I almost gave up my wee school-girl life for the taste of them one Alberta summer when we stopped on the way home from Pigeon Lake to pick wild blueberries. I was so excited I dashed across the road right in the path of an oncoming car. It never could have stopped in time. The whoosh as it passed a heel's breadth away made every tiny blonde hair on my arms stand up.
At a very young age, I learned the finer points of good blueberry pies.
My elementary school in Edmonton did an annual fall fundraiser when our shins were still scabby from summer holiday shenanigans and our skinny little arms and legs hadn't yet faded from sun-baked brown.
All the mothers baked pies, which we kids dutifully carried to school. There they were carefully cut into eighths, plated and covered with weird, crinkly plastic wrap from the school cafeteria.
On Pie Day, the pieces were laid out on tables in the school gym. A slice of pie heaven could be had for one slim quarter.
Lemon meringue pie, peach pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, apple pie, pie pastry filled with Jell-O instant chocolate pudding (good to a kid's palate, but not really a pie), rhubarb pie from the moms who had thought to freeze rhubarb in the spring, raisin pie, mincemeat pie from the moms who had some leftover from the previous Christmas (it lasts for years, you know), chiffon pie, butterscotch pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and custard pies with graham cracker crusts.
To a nine-year-old kid, it looked like an endless sea of pieces of pie more precious than pieces of eight.
Given my addiction to blueberry pies, I circled the tables carefully, carefully, carefully assessing the offerings. At last I found what looked to be the ultimate prize: a fat piece of blueberry pie stuffed with a glistening purplish-black filling of blueberries set off by a pretty powder-pale crust.
I ran with it back to my mom, who cocked an eyebrow and asked if I was sure that was the one I wanted.
Moms are smart, for what seemed like a prize turned out to be crap. The crust was as flaccid and tasteless as milquetoast, and the filling was a disaster - not enough sugar to bring out the flavour and made with so much cornstarch to thicken the juices you could have bounced it through the gym basketball hoops.