It has been recommended to me by several people that I must go berry picking while living in B.C. I am slowly learning my way around this part of the world and have just recently realized that just east of us in South Surrey is much of the agricultural land of B.C. Which makes me feel even more lucky to have landed in the place we did, an ocean and the farm country?... talk about the best of both worlds!
A handful of times I have noticed the, "Fresh Blueberries For Sale" signs along the highway, but never a "UPick". So, when we happened upon that rare little sign today, we pulled into this family farm not really knowing what to expect. There was a beautiful young Middle Eastern lady outside their farm gate, under a tent selling berries. We rolled down our window to double check if we were in the right place for doing our own picking. She assured us we were. However, when we continued down their little dirt road, the only people I could see out picking were people I knew must be in their own family. When John came back from talking to the owner, he said, "I don't know if this is a real UPick place, but the guy said we could go out there." Not very convincing to me; so I got out of the car to go ask him myself. I wasn't about to let all the boys get out and start on an experience only to have it turn out weird and awkward. As I walked up to the shed he was in, a "Customer" was getting ready to pay for his loot of berries, and I noticed the owner lower his voice, and send him on his way refusing to take his money. Now this seemed a little sketchy to me, like some kind of a drug deal with berries.
"Are you sure you are ok with us taking our kids out to pick?" I asked him. "Of course", he assured me, "Here are buckets for each of them, and I'll show you the way." (Don't worry Mom, I felt safe and John was near) I followed him with Grady and Preston, Ty thought he would absolutely hate picking something that he refused to eat, (he ended up loving it).
Preston ate so many berries, I was certain he would explode!
What I found out about this man in the first 5 minutes walking with him, was that #1 He was kind and number 2 he was giving. As we walked past his chicken coup he noticed my boys were interested, and immediately offered some eggs to the boys to take home. As we talked of his home land which is near the border of Pakistan, and all the things they farmed there, he politely offers that our family come over sometime and they will make us some of their native food. I quickly realized that there was no need to imagine some hush hush trading of goods illegally with the above mentioned customer, but he was just a good man wanting to share with others and connect with his fellow man.
Of course our conversation lead to the reason our family was out here from California, and bringing up the Sports aspect of our life, only furthered our connection.
His father is a well respected player and coach where they are from of a sport that he explained as a mix between rugby and wrestling. His daughter played competitive soccer and his 16 year old son plays on a very competitive hockey team here. When he told me that he worries his son holds back in his game at times, but has a lot of potential to play at a high level in his future, I knew that John could offer him some valuable advice. He brought his son Jai over and offered for us to sit down and let him make us some tea. We kindly declined. Dispelling any business relationship at this point, he assured us, he would make us tea as a friend and wouldn't charge us. :) As I listened to John share some of his personal experiences that we learned the hard way in the world of sports, give visual analogies, as well as offer reading material as a resource to help, I felt a little piece of our journey come full circle. I admired that John was in the place he was, being able to teach the things that he taught, and knowing that the knowledge of those things didn't come easy. I was impressed to see that Jai was every bit as genuine and kind as his father.
We were all working so hard together to get Ty to try a berry.
John even wagered a Toonie (Canadian Dollar Coin) Dave kept offering Ty a berry and would say in his accent "For a Toonie!"
We began to say our goodbyes and give our thanks, as Dave continued to open his land and home to us, "Bring your boys to play on the farm anytime they're bored, I'll take them on a tractor ride".
When we made it back to the shed where this journey all started, Dave boxed our berries and handed them to us. We reached for our money to pay, to which he replied,
"Don't worry about it, you can pay next time."