“Huckleberries” by guest writer, Olin Davis, from Tuesday’s writing group meeting

“Huckleberries! I crave huckleberries.” I whined in the most obnoxious voice that a twelve or thirteen year old could muster. “I want to go berrying with Clarence tomorrow.  I love huckleberries. I yearn for huckleberries. He said they are ready to pick right now. Can’t I go to the woods with him? I long for huckleberries!”

“You heard what your father said; The hay in the field will be ready tomorrow and you have to help.” My mother’s quiet and gentle response didn’t convince me.

“But everybody else could do the work and I could go pick huckleberries.” I glanced over at Dad. He didn’t say a word. I had seen that expression before.  It was a mixture of incredulity and disgust. I doubted he was going to relent but I had to try again. “Huckleberries are only ripe once a year and I’m hungry for ’em. Ple-as-s-e.”

Our good neighbor, Clarence White had just left our kitchen. Clarence had invited me to go with him tomorrow to pick huckleberries. “They are large and juicy sweet this year, ” he told us.  He was a woodsman who knew all the secrets of the dense forest across Wood Creek and beyond. He knew where  the biggest and best wild berries grew.  Several summers previously, Dad, my brothers, and I had gone with Clarence far, far into the woods to the huckleberry swamp that he knew.  The highbushes were as tall as a man’s head and loaded with the delicious treats.  It was easy picking. We filled milk pails to carry home.  My brothers and I ate as many as we put into the buckets. Our tongues and lips were blue.

The treat continued when Mother made huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry pies, huckleberry puddings and cake. She canned berries for cold days the following winter. It is no wonder I begged to go once more with our neighbor friend.

 

I was about to begin a new tactic of begging. Wouldn’t they be pleased that I was offering to bring food to the table? Dad jumped up from his chair and said, “All right, if you have to have huckleberries tonight, I’ll get you some.” I watched as he opened a kitchen drawer. He grabbed a flashlight , snatched a cereal bowl from the cupboard, and hustled outside into the darkness.

 

I was overcome with dread. I followed to the door and shouted, “Dad, come back! I didn’t mean tonight.” Did he hear me? He didn’t stop. I couldn’t see him.

 

“Let him go,” Mother said. I was shamed and terrified. I had caused my father to risk his life. He would have to cross the creek, walk across the huge hayfield, trek through thick woodland far, far back to get to the berry bushes.  There were no trails to follow. The journey was difficult in daylight but all he had was one little flashlight. I cried as I realized how wretched I had been. Why would Dad pay attention to my selfish demands tonight? That had never happened before.  What if he became lost and couldn’t come back? Would I have to milk the cows all alone in the morning?  It was all my fault. Mother kept on darning socks without saying a word.

Finally after what seemed forever, Dad came in the back door with a bowlful of berries. “Now,” he said, “Sit up and eat your huckleberries.”

I was quivering inside. “I’ll share some with everybody.

“No, you’ll sit there and eat every berry until they are gone while the rest of the family watches.”

“But, but…..I didn’t want them tonight. I wanted them tomorrow.”

“Oh, yes, you craved huckleberries. Now you have them and you’ll eat them.” Of course I did. They didn’t even taste good to me. Much, much later, I discovered that Dad had observed a huckleberry bush down near our pasture gate.  It yielded only one bowlful of huckleberries that night.

 

The next day as I drove the horses pulling the hay rake, I had alone time to think. Guilt and shame were spilling over each other in my mind. I had received something that I had selfishly desired without thinking of necessities. I also received another lesson in life.

My parents might have chosen a less effective means to deal with this belligerant kid. They demonstrated with actions. I might not have remembered the incident or the teaching the next 75 years if they had lectured, scolded, or flogged me.

My fondness for huckleberries has not evaporated even though they are called blueberries these days. If nothing is planned for tomorrow, let’s grab a pail and head out to the blueberry patch. 

                                                                                                                                   Olin Davis

                                                                                                                                    May 2013

thank you, Olin. May the huckleberry fields ever be rich and deep and your wife by your side laughter and smiles beneath a blue sunlit heaven.  Rachael

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2 Responses to ““Huckleberries” by guest writer, Olin Davis, from Tuesday’s writing group meeting”

  1. clover58 Says:

    Reblogged this on Clover's pages.

  2. clare willson Says:

    I heard his voice as I read.

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