Doc had a full weekend off, we wanted to get outside, so we drove west an hour or so to one of our favorite trails around these parts. I still have some PTSD from the last weekend we spent in these woods where I experienced a moment of sheer terror, but we chose a spot with no “swimming holes” or base jumps. Just a hike.
After lunch off the trail a ways, we got moving again and happened upon a girl walking with a travel mug full to the brim with wild blueberries. I asked her about them, and from this point on, I may have been dreaming. Seriously.
She was probably thirteen, energetic, and sweet as could be. She didn’t seem like a stranger in nature the way so many hikers do- she looked no more out of place than the wildflowers nodding along the trail. In a sing-song voice she told me to follow her, then spun around and frolicked- literally frolicked- down the path along the ridge. I was a little perplexed but without thinking too hard about it, I loped along after her, not sure if I was going crazy or not. Just as I glanced over my shoulder to see if the Pumpkins & Doc were still with me, Blueberry Girl abruptly disappeared into the brush to the left. I stopped where I had seen her last and blinked a few times, wondering if this was what it was like to be genuinely crazy- when I just barely saw sunlight catching on her golden hair as it bobbed down the mountainside.
When I caught up, she was waist high in underbrush, sweeping her hand across a patch of blueberry bushes.
“They’re everywhere!“, she said with such eagerness it made me smile. A good-sized patch was just underneath me on the steep hillside. I thanked her and Doc and the munchkins caught up with me. We pulled out our empty sandwich bags from lunch and began picking. Her lilting voice from further up the mountain and the massive amount of blueberries everywhere we looked gave the afternoon a dreamy feeling.
It was all I could do to wade waist high in bushes, waiting for that inevitable snakebite on my Chaco-ed foot, to pick the blueberries spread before us and keep track of the munchkins.
At one point Doc just happened to glance up the hill to where a small side trail went by, and noticed a familiar figure. One of Doc’s fellow residents who lives in our neighborhood just happened to be walking by with his family. Doc hollered at them, we all discussed how bizarre it was that we ran into each other on a mountain an hour away from home, and they came down to join in the picking party.
My girlies were glad for the extra folks cause it meant they didn’t have to walk back up that hill with tummies full of blueberries and hours of picking later. And it meant more hands to carry the gallons of wild blueberries we got.
As we all came up the mountain and found the dirt path that took us back to our cars, I thanked God for this place we’re living, these friends that we live close to, and a husband who silently shares this chronic ache I have to be near the sky and mountains and silence.
And for sending Blueberry Girl- even if it was all just a dream.