St. John, NB

The Blueberry House is a large geodesic dome painted suitably blue and surrounded by large blue buoys, blue fences, and a blue mini-golf course. As you drive north on the last rutted stretch of Highway 1, numerous signs herald the Blueberry House, proclaiming it the center of global blueberry goodness. Between the bombast of the faded signs and the characteristically eccentric architecture, it seems like the sort of place that would be closed, as so many of the best roadside establishments are. Thankfully, this is not the case. Though its funkiness makes it appear like a child of the seventies, the Blueberry House is only a decade old, the dream of a local family of berry farmers. Inside, surrounded by shelves of kitsch treasures, the founder's son throws together a blueberry milkshake so brutally delicious it could be used to wean junkies off heroin. It actually tastes like blueberries, a flavor that is wholly different from the mealy or bitter off-season things marketed as "blueberries" in supermarkets. The shake is so good that it will ruin every other blueberry-themed snack for the rest of a person's lifetime, making a mockery of scones, muffins, and commercial ice cream. But the window for such deliciousness is short: "maybe a month?" the son says. "We can usually go for six weeks because we do all of our own processing here... ouch, ouch, ouch!" The blender's motor stops whirring and he lets go of the frosty metal blender cup and flails his right arm: "I think I just got a cold headache in my hand... I don't make these very often. Nobody really orders them." Back outside, the highway wanders to the northeast, escorted by red-green fields of lowbush blueberries. They look similar to a Scottish moor.

Fog camps out north of the Canadian border and the sunny afternoon evacuates to higher altitudes. Winter arrives with the fog and the air temperature plummets. Southern New Brunswick is a land of hills that are bulky rather than steep, hills so long and wide and low that they are closer to waves of land than hills. Towns are small and scattered, a few white houses and faded barns amidst dark expanses of pines and birches. But all of this is consumed by the particles of water vapor and the trans-Canadian Highway becomes a thin causeway through nothing and into nothing. It is a bright fog, shining like snow, necessitating sunglasses, but opaque all the same. Cars appear and vanish, becoming memories almost before they are perceived.