Raking Blueberries This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   For two weeks last August I raked blueberries. The first day I got up at 6:00, made my lunch, had breakfast and headed to the blueberry fields. Since I was riding my bike, it took me about 20 minutes. I made it up to the fields at about 7:00 and everyone was there. It was quite hot. I figured that the next day I'd get there earlier.

I raked low-bush blueberries that grew about two to five inches off the ground. The shorter the bush the easier it was to rake because your rake didn't get caught in the bushes. The more leaves you have, the less your bucket weighs, because you get paid by the weight of your bucket. After the blueberries have been raked, the vines are burned to kill the weeds and old leaves. Then that field isn't raked for a year.

You rake blueberries with a blueberry rake, which looks like a box without a front and a top. Half of the bottom is made up of tines. Attached to the back is a handle that sticks out over the bottom and you put your hand in that and scoop up the blueberries. You have to bend and scoop the berries. The bending over is what really hurts.

I got to the fields at about 6:30 the next day. Then I started to get up at 5:00 to get to the field at 6:00 when it was cool and the sun wasn't up yet, so I could work without getting really hot. Many a morning I was the second to arrive at the field. There was a man named Pete who was always the first because he lived right next to the fields.

My goal was usually to rake at least twenty buckets. If you got there early, you had a better chance of getting more buckets. Afterward, I'd rake some more, have lunch, lounge around for ten minutes, and then rake some more. If I needed water, I'd take the four-wheeler to the house. Some days the sun was so hot that I couldn't rake more than twenty buckets.

I raked for two weeks and would have gone on, but I was invited by a friend to visit an island. That was quite a way to relax after working. I'm happy that I decided to rake blueberries because I was able to buy some tools and a suspension fork for my bike. Some time this July I'll call to see if I can rake again in August. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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