Many days we would go out berry picking – first salmonberries, then wild strawberries out on the beach, and then huckleberries, blue berries, salal berries, and more. But huckleberries were my first baby’s favorites! Sometimes we would go berry picking with friends; one time a whole bunch of people from the church went picking together, and picked buckets and buckets. My husband was the official guard; he sat on a high old stump with his rifle and watched for bears, as they had been spotted in the area, and everybody knows bears love berries. Other times, the three of us would go picking together, Lionel always taking his rifle. If us girls were going out alone, he ruled that we had to take Max, our Doberman, along to protect us.

So one day I found a couple of bushes just loaded with huge, juicy red huckleberries. I had Taryn on my back in a baby carrier, facing backwards to enjoy the sights while I picked. The other bush was right behind me, with Taryn facing it. I picked and picked from the first bush, happy that Taryn was contented, just humming and making happy little noises. I was a little surprised that she wasn’t getting bored, as the picking was taking a long time. Finally I finished the bush and turned around to pick off the other bush – and discovered that there was a huge area on the bush suddenly bare of berries. So I undid the straps of the baby carrier and let it down to the ground. There was Taryn, smiling from ear to ear, covered from head to toe with red berry juice, and her little cheeks still bulging from the last mouthful! She had picked and eaten most of the berries on that bush! Her tummy was bulging and she was grinning ear to ear!

Written November 2008 (re summer 1982)

Norma J Hill