On an evening this past weekend, my brother and his daughter and I drove in his truck to an old blueberry patch where we used to pick as kids. We pulled into the small parking area with the sun barely above the treetops over to the west. Lucy, six, walked with us to a row off to the right. She and I began to pick near each other while my brother moved more quickly down the row, pulling off the larger ones from the edges. Lucy and I talked. Which ones do you like? I asked. She couldn't quite decide. It was just that some are right and some. . . aren't. Gradually I began to understand that for her, the larger they are the less she likes them. I told her—with hesitation, as I didn’t want this experience to be too-much affected by my own memories—that 'Papo' (my father, her grandfather), liked the sour blueberries; Papo thought that the tarter they were, the better. He DID? she said. Why? I explained that I didn’t know. He just did. But instead of saying they were tart, I told her, he would say ‘they had flavor.’
Lucy continued to pick blueberries and, every so often, would pick one and declare it unfit. Ugh, she’d say, plucking it from her mouth and watching it fall, two pinched fingers hanging over the spot as if to cast it wicked with a spell. Ugh. Bad blueberry.
I began to have her try some of the blueberries that I found good—very sweet, medium-sized, but with something deeper than sweet though, too. She’d try each one that I offered her, usually spitting them out and saying, again, ugh, GROSS, no! Except for the occasional one, which would, she decided, be good enough. I never did fully get the criteria.