We had a couple extra hours this weekend and my hubby got it in his head that we needed to go berry picking. We headed down 99 in Canby, Oregon. Sunshine and AC, sunscreen slathered thick, sunnies, and flip-flops, we find the place he is looking for.
A pleasant looking woman approaches us, her long skirt billowing in the breeze, her grey specked hair tucked under a black scarf neatly pinned on her head, a few wisps floating free. She holds out a sun leathered hand and welcomes my husband and they get busy chatting and pointing to the rows of berry plants. My daughter and I tie back our hair, and we strapped on the baby’s sandals. My son got busy finding a good stick to make into a sword.
Carefully instructed my son and my daughter set off with bags in hand, determined to find the biggest and sweetest. My husband gleefully trails behind them, reliving a childhood memory. My toddler and I follow, carefully stopping to examine a few rocks, some thistles, a bug… finally the first little berry bush. He squeals with delight at inspecting the small bright red thing hiding below the dark green leaf he plucked. Eat it? He wants to know.
How do kids instinctively know something is meant to be eaten?
My older two are chatting back and forth in the distance, my husband comes back to us. Have you tried one? He offers a perfectly shaped strawberry to our baby boy. The toddler ins’t so sure now. His little tong timidly tastes. Finding that satisfying the top of the berry disappears into his puckered lips, his eyes questioning mine. We laugh as he makes a face as if he were trying a lemon. Good, he pronounces with a grimace. No, no more. Bag. He plunks his half eaten berry into our bag.
With that we are busy learning which berries get to plunk into the bag and which ones we taste and which ones we surreptitiously squish when Mommy isn’t looking. My daughter is careful, delicately moving leaves aside and ceremoniously selecting each berry for her bag. My son is darting in and out of rows, grabbing at berries as he spots them, determined to be the fastest and collect the most, occasionally swiping bad guys with his sword. My husband picks with total engrossment, chatting to no one in particular about berry picking as a kid, which berries make the best… whatever desert is currently tipping his memory, and how to find the best bushes – the ones where all the bees are.
It’s not long before we’re done, proudly carrying our loot back to be weighed and valiantly displayed to the grandparents and cousins. New stories emerge as we pile into the van, sweaty and stained. A killer bee that was thwarted of its mission to keep the berry patch free from giants… a perfect berry that imploded into red juice when little finger reached for it… the best berry to eat hidden deep within so-and-so’s bag…