“Berries? Go berries?”
Mom tied my sunbonnet under my chin, hung several nested pails on one arm and bundled my baby sister on her other arm. We trudged up the lane toward the East Forty, where the berries hung blackly from bushes, begging to be picked.
“Pail? Me pail?” I begged insistently, wanting to carry my own little pail.
After Mom carefully arranged my newborn baby sister Mary on the blankets in a shady spot, she wiped the sweat from her brow as she handed me my little pail. “Here’s your pail, honey. Now you stay right by me and don’t get lost,” she warned. I eagerly agreed; I wanted to be safe.
As Mom’s pail began to rattle with warm, sweet fruit, the purple stain on my lips gave evidence that I, too, was picking blackberries. My little arms could not reach far, so I soon was around the corner of a blackberry bush where Mom couldn’t see me. She was concentrating on filling her pail with berries so she could get back to the house and bake a pie for supper.
I placed several berries in my pail, walked a little farther, and ate the big ones I found there. I spied some even bigger ones a little farther on. When I got there, I found I couldn’t reach them. Flies and bees were buzzing all around, and the sun seemed even hotter. I stooped to look at a bumble bee on a dandelion, and then picked the dandelion so I could blow the fuzz.
Soon I continued onward, the search for more berries forgotten. I stumbled over a semi-dried cow pie on the cow path, and then sat down by it, entranced by the interesting way the flies were coming in and out. I poked at the cow pie; how interesting that it was hard on top but juicy underneath. Some of the juice squirted on my hands.
Birds cawing and calling caught my attention. I looked up. A bluebird was sitting right over there where I might catch it. Leaving the pail, I ran toward the bird, but it flew away. I tried to follow, but soon I couldn’t see it any more. I began to cry.
Crying, scratching at bites on my arms and legs, and not seeing my Mom, I stumbled farther and farther toward the woods.
“Mommy! Mommy!” I cried and cried.
I was at the edge of a creek, with water swirling in eddies around the rocks. Willows grew along the edge where the cows came to drink. I could go no farther, so I sat down, crying hard by now. I couldn’t see anybody, and I heard scary sounds in the woods.
Sobbing, my panties wet with fear, I knew I was lost. No one was there. I was all alone. Some of my scratches were bleeding, and I had cow pie juice smeared all over. Verging on hysteria, I threw myself on the muddy bank of the creek and screamed.
Then I heard sounds of branches breaking and something running. Stopping my screams, I looked up, and flying across the river was my Daddy, his terror-filled face aimed straight for me. He scooped me into his arms as his tears joined with mine.
“Oh, Baby, Baby. My Tootsie, you’re alright. It’s going to be alright. I’ve got you now.”
His arms tight around me, he carried me through the bushes and down the cow path toward home. I knew I was safe and secure in my Daddy’s arms.