Life’s lessons from the berry patch |

Life’s lessons from the berry patch

Note: A blackberry is a small round fruit; if you’ve lived in this area for even a very few months, you know what one is. This berry consists of several itsy-bitsy lobes, each of which contains a mini-drop of delicious juice/pulp. Hold that thought.

When I told you the blackberry story about baking fruit cobblers and enjoying Sid’s electric blue smile, that wasn’t really the story I wanted to tell. But that story was genuinely funny and endearing, and I didn’t know what you’d make of the other story I originally wanted to tell. Is this making sense?

Sugartush and I have been friends for many years with a couple who live in southern California, and they like to come a-visitin’ in their gargantuan motor home sometime each summer, we are on their vacation route. I call them Fauntleroy and Modine.

Planning an early retirement, Faunt explored several hobbies (tennis, golf, Home Depoting, music) and settled on fishing. He had equipment and clothing for every season, every kind of fish, salt water or fresh, lake, stream, pond or ocean. If Nessie relocated from Scotland and was spotted at our local fishing hole, he had a license to catch her.

Faunt had his visit down to a science: set up the motor home, pack up all the fishing gear he could carry, and disappear on the Yuba somewhere until late evening.

Mo didn’t share his passion. She had also tried various pastimes (tennis, golf, crafts, shopping, French cooking) but nothing felt right, and she was monumentally bored. She spent a lot of time involved with nail art – this is the friend I told you about quite a while ago who had her nails done with fluff on the edges, remember that?

Well, she finally discovered an enjoyable hobby, which was the breeding and raising of a new blended toy dog: Malt-i-tzu? Pom-a-poo? Cock-a-doodle? I don’t remember. She proudly showed me her long long nails, all 10 intricately painted with different poses of her adored furkids; each one was a masterpiece. I was impressed.

That particular visit coincided with blackberry season, and for lack of anything better to do, Mo followed me outside to watch me picking through the vines.

“What are those? Do you use them for jam?” she asked. “Are the sharp things thorns?”

“Why don’t you try one, Mo? They’re really good.” I pointed to an especially large, juicy berry. With an “e-e-e-uw-w” look on her face, she gingerly reached out with her thumb and index finger to pick it – instantly she flinched, looked at her finger, then fled into her motor home.

“Oh bad word! I offer her a blackberry experience and she gets stung by a bee! Bad word! Major bad word!”

I immediately followed her and found her sitting at her kitchen table, red faced, hiccupping tears, utterly distraught, what more can I say? It appeared that the sharp edge of her index fingernail pierced a lobe on the blackberry, which burst and stained the picture painted thereon. I apologized for the rude berry and then sat there, my chin resting on my hand, as she brought out a little box of special nail-related implements, polishes and brushes and tried in vain for half an hour to repair the damage.

There is no ending, no meaning – it’s just something that happened. I have tried to omit any personal comment, criticism or message (I know I failed); I merely leave it with you to make of it whatever you wish. Mo and Faunt didn’t come back this summer either. I’ve thought of this many, many times for over a year….thank you for letting me share it with you.


Vivian Herron is a long-time resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.

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