Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eaten Alive

Under no circumstances could anyone call me a "nature girl." I won't camp, or take a relaxed hike in the woods.  The protected preserve that joins up to my backyard leaks ticks, moles, voles, and birds that drop pieces of their prey's torn up body into my yard for my children and I to examine with disgusted fascination. Though I love the privacy of no neighbors, I really only enjoy the preserve from the safe containment of my master bedroom window.

So what possesses me to go picking strawberries, blueberries and raspberries is beyond me. I suppose it's desperation. I love to take on cooking projects because it allows me to see physical proof that I have acheived something that day.  Last week, we ran out of jam, the girls and I were bored, so we packed up and headed to the raspberry farm hoping to come home with enough berries for a batch of jam.

I will admit that I found picking strawberries relaxing, and the blueberry fields in IA gave me a sense of home. But when we went to pick raspberries for jam, the not-so-nature girl in me was brought out. And she wasn't quiet. She got stares from the content women, happily picking buckets of fruit the next aisle over.

"Hurry up. The faster you pick, the sooner we are out of here."

"I swear, can you pick any slower? Oh my god. Why are there so many mosquitos? This is terrible. I am going to die."  My mind raced with catastrophic thoughts of my children contracting West Nile Virus just so I could say I took them raspberry picking. 

The staff were very kind. They gave us bug spray, and though the neurotic woman in me was reluctant to spray DEET on my children, I lined them up and sprayed us all down, knowing, already, that we'd be showering as soon as we got home.  

Now those of you who know children, know that they are always watching us, learning how to react to situations. Pretty soon the twincesses were dramatically claiming they were going to die, that bugs were sucking their blood, and Andi, overcome with what I guess is disgust, laid on the thistle-y field and cried. Two buckets of berries in one hand, I'm dragging her like a child drags her doll through the house. "C'mon Andi! Up on your feet!" I command her like a sargent trying to get his troops out of a firing zone.  The twins have already fled down the aisle and are waiting in the building.

We did get enough raspberries for jam with none left to spare. And as we headed out to do some early fall shopping that afternoon, we grabbed the mail. My sister-in-law sent a note. I love her notes. She addresses me as "Mme" on the envelope and I feel like such a lady, as if I should be wearing lace gloves and living in France. Her note told about her times picking berries as a child, an "innocent" time which she enjoyed. "What a funny irony," I thought, as I drove to the air conditioned, bug-free, shopping outlet. 

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