Categories
Memoir & Narratives

Watching and Waiting at Persimmon Hill Berry Farm

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My husband wants to pick some blackberries, so he gets another bucket from the shed and heads to the ten or so rows of blackberry bushes toward the less-frequented part of Persimmon Hill Berry Farm in Lampe, Missouri. I wait for him under a cedar tree at a picnic table with our two one-gallon buckets brimming with the blueberries we just picked. It’s a sunny, humid day. Among the rows of Collins, Northblue and other varieties, the air is thick and still. Oppressive. But while I sit in the shade, a gentle breeze chills the dampness on my neck and arms.  I observe and listen to the mid-morning activity of blueberry pickers.

A mother walks purposefully by. She is wearing a stiff, white Anabaptist bonnet and a long, navy blue cotton dress that covers her neck, shoulders, arms. Its hem reaches to her mid-calf and draws my eye to her footwear: hot pink, sparkly flip-flops. Her son wears long shorts, a plaid shirt, and a gray cap. They chatter in a loose and quiet German. The woman’s daughter, about four years old and the younger of her two children, wears a burgundy dress in the same style as her mother’s. Her blonde pigtails bounce with every step she takes in her sandals. She lags behind her mother and brother, dawdling to carefully study three little girls sitting at the picnic table to my right. Like baby birds, they perch atop the table, lifting their freckled cheeks to their mothers to be evenly coated with  sunscreen and dutiful vigor.

The bonneted mother turns for the daughter and curtly calls her to hurry. Drawn to attention, the little girl’s eyes dart upward and her mother grasps her hand, pulling her alongside. The girl stumbles, hops, and dances to catch up to her mother’s long, deliberate strides. They turn into a row and disappear among the bushes near the far-end of the acreage where the berries are at their heaviest and sweetest.

My husband returns with a bucket half-filled with shiny, bumpy blackberries, many the size of elongated golf balls. It won’t take many to make a pie, which is what he intends to do this evening. We gather up our buckets and head for the house to pay our bill. I glance back across the valley of blueberry bushes. I see the mother’s starched white bonnet hovering over bushes and I appreciate her determination to accomplish the day’s tasks with her two little ones in tow.

Categories
parenting

I Cut the Grass Today

 

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

I cut the grass today. I cut the grass with one of those old-fashioned rotary cutters that require nothing more than two legs and two arms to maneuver. No jerking on the starter cord. No gasoline. No loud engine noise.  A cool breeze stirred the humidity of the afternoon and tiny brown needles sprinkled down from the cedar branches. I looked up into the tree to see two steel hooks that in past summers held the blue plastic seat that my son and daughter swung in when they were babies and toddlers. The yard was lush then, twenty years ago, when the tree was small. Over time,  as the cedar has inched skyward, its toxic needles have infected the grass below, causing it to thin, grow scraggly, and yet still require a trim. The cutter jammed, shoving the handlebar against my hip. I stepped back and tugged and twisted the machine to jar the immobilized blades. Out dropped a twig, and I finished cutting the grass.