When my husband and I bought a house in Massachusetts many years ago, we were excited that the property came with a couple of acres of woods in the back. The woods stretched deeply for several miles. There was an old ultility trail running through them, which came through the back corner of our property, but otherwise they were just raw woods. We immediately set up an electronic fence for our two German Shepherds, happy to give them some room to roam on our beautiful new property. We were thrilled with the privacy. But not long after we moved in, we were surprised one day by a couple of men walking through our back yard. Not just on the trail, but in the yard itself. I was able to catch the dogs before they confronted them but the men kept going, disappearing into the woods, ignoring my calls. A few days later more people came through. Then, a couple of kids on bikes, riding across our lawn. The final straw came when an old man on a small tractor came through, pulling a trailer filled with children.
It seems they were all entering on the old utility easement a few blocks from our house. This easement was for the utility company to work on its poles farther down, but the locals obviously figured the easement and the woods belonged to them, too. We were concerned that the dogs would go after them and tried yelling nicely for a while, then we just tried yelling. We ended up having a fence installed. Finally, a neighbor told us the others had ignored us because they were used to collecting the wild blueberries that grew in the woods. I had never seen any blueberries. Neither had my husband. We hiked deep into the woods along the trail looking for them, but never saw any blueberries growing anywhere. Finally, we figured they really weren’t there, that the locals just liked hiking through our property and didn’t want to acknowledge the woods around our house were now off-limits.
We began to clear trails within our property for the dogs. In a small clearing off on the far side of our house, I set up a ring of stones at the base of a large boulder which was flanked by several bushes and trees. I aligned this “wheel” as best I could for meditations and would go out there in the afternoons after I became ill. I would sit at the base of the boulder and ask the universe the question all people ask when something terrible happens. “Why?” Why had my injury happened and what was I supposed to be learning from my experience? Was I missing something? Or was it just a random piece of bad luck? I would spend hours out there with the dogs, hoping for some kind of insight that could help me heal.
Then one day, I read something that got me thinking. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” I was thinking about it that afternoon as I sat in the stone circle, wondering if I had been looking at things the wrong way, wondering if I needed to somehow shift my viewpoint on how I was thinking to find an answer to my question. As I was pondering this, something caught the corner of my eye. I turned my head. There, just a few feet from where I sat every day, was a bush the size of a small car, bursting with blueberries. Next to it, was another. Why I had never seen them before is a total mystery, but that day, the day I thought about changing the way I was looking at things, there they were. And obviously, there they always were, waiting for me to discover them.
I have thought a lot about the blueberries over the years. It was such an amazing discovery for me, right there under my nose the whole time. But I wasn’t looking in the right place for them – I thought they must have been farther down the trail and that the locals just used our yard as a cut-thru. I didn’t realize our property was the destination for all those people, who apparently knew our land better than we did. Even though I had been sitting next to the blueberries for more than two years, I never saw them, despite how huge the bushes were. It reminds me how so much of the world may be right in front of us, quietly, patiently awaiting our arrival, if only we know how to “see.” Those blueberries proved to me that if we change the way we look at things, the things we look at really do change.