Sunday, August 03, 2008


I did not go to a museum. I did not lie in green grass. Those things would not have cured the near terminal case of self-pity I had going on last week. 

Instead, I went to a small truck farm 15 miles outside the KC metro area and picked a gallon of blackberries. Cows bellowed in the distance, wasps buzzed in the foreground, and berries glistened in the setting sun. It was 95 degrees, so before long I glistened, too. 

This little farm was really a very large garden beside a suburban-style house, maybe 5 acres or so. Peach and apple trees on one side of the driveway, strawberry and blackberry patches on the other, tomatoes and a good sized stand of corn at the back. Linda, the lady of the manor, stands in the garage handing out Blue Bunny ice cream pails and bug spray, the essentials of berry picking, I guess.

Linda must be about 65, a little apple dumpling of a woman whose round torso perches  on top of  tan, muscular legs even the most committed young gym rat would envy—not one wrinkle or ripple or vein in sight despite her very short shorts. The hair near her scalp is pure white, but an inch out, it shifts to the color of the pulp inside a walnut hull. 

Linda's eyebrows are drawn on in distinct auburn arches, perfect despite the sweat streaming down her face. Her mascara does not fare as well: tiny black rivers flood the wrinkles around her eyes. She fans her face with both hands, like alternating windshield wipers at the end of her nose.

A gallon of blackberries goes for $13 if you pick them, $15 if Linda braves the heat and bugs to collect them for you. Before she lets you pick, she makes sure you're going to use the berries yourself, not take them to a farmer's market and "rip people off" by selling them at $4 a pint. 

You gotta love a woman like that. Her, and her berries, too.


Deb said...

It sounds like the perfect getting-out-of-yourself experience. I'm guessing that whatever you did or are going to do with the berries will be part two of that. Hope you'll share.

No one, and I mean no one, does a better job of making people and experiences come alive on the page than you do. I am picturing those eyebrows, making sure you're not scalping berries.

Go Mama said...

Love you!

Love this:
Linda must be about 60, a little apple dumpling of a woman whose round torso perches atop strong, tan, shapely legs even the most committed young gym rat would envy.

and this:
...the color of the pulp inside a walnut hull.

Sounds like the perfect escape. Now, let's see some jam pictures or the perfect berry pie recipe!!! C'mon, I know you are off jammin' and baking.

(I'll show you mine if you show me yours.)


riversgrace said...

Yes, love the writing, so many lines of it....

I love that you took yourself for a drive and to pick berries.

Sidebar: I have blackberries flanking my backyard on two sides, three stories tall.

p.s. they're free :)

Doubting Thomas said...

What a great story.

Breakfast for me lately occurs in the back yard, picking raspberries from the bushes, so I'm right with you on this one.

Nothing speaks of the benevolence of nature like berry bushes.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

You TOTALLY gotta love a woman like that, and a woman like you, that appreciates a woman like that!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Funny. Reminds me of the questionares they make you fill out at the pound before you adopt a pet.

"How did you take care of your last set of berries?"