This is my favorite Robert McCloskey book, even more than Make Way for Ducklings or Homer Price. He wrote it in the 1940s and won a Caldecott for it. I have an old copy of it that was printed in the 1960s and the illustrations were homey and warm; the illustration of the kitchen reminds me of my Grandmother's old kitchen. My Mom read it to me, then she read it to my sister, then I read it to my little brother. I read it to both my kids so often they could recite it verbatim.
I went blueberry pickin' this morning. I got up early and drove to my favorite Pick Your Own blueberry farm with a cup of Southern Pecan coffee and the sunroof open. I always think about Blueberries for Sal when I pick blueberries. I got out of the car and walked into the field between the rows where many of the blueberry bushes are so tall they provide sort of an arbor to walk down. It was peaceful, sun was shining down in broken streaks through the branches, birds were singing and a couple of bluebirds were fussing at me, and my toes were damp from the dew. Life was good. I was putting handfuls of berries in my bucket and eating one every now and then when a plump, juicy one was just too much to resist. I thought "wouldn't it be funny if I heard a rustle of leaves and a 'plink, plank, plunk' from the other side of the row.
No such luck. I'd rather it have been a baby bear, to tell you the truth. But no, it was two women who had come to pick berries together. Guessing they were in their 70s. They enjoyed each other's company and while they were picking they conversed. N-o-n-s-t-o-p. Theyyyyyyy talked about vitamin supplements, they talked about their husbands' declining health and vigor, they talked about sales at the grocery stores, what they cooked for dinner last night, their hip pain, their thin fingernails, their droopy eyes, droopy boobs and shingle butts and other minutia. Sooooo much other minutia. My ears began to throb. Where in the heck was my quiet, lovely, early morning outside time where I could marvel at God's handywork while I picked blueberries so ripe and juicy they were all but dripping from the bush? listen to birds tweet and squawk? squench my toes in the dewy grass? I moved to the other end of the field lest my throbbing ears begin to bleed. It was a little quieter there but I could still hear the Prattle Twins. From that distance they sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher, which was a vast improvement from the pastiche of subjects they'd discussed in detail within my earshot.
Decidedly they have a different archetype for blueberry picking. Theirs is one of camaraderie and conversation, mine of solitude and meditative time, admiration for nature. At least I came home with a gallon of blueberries, which have now been washed and at the moment are drying on trays with the fan blowing on them. When they're dry they'll go in the freezer until they're individually frozen, and from there into Zippie freezer bags.
I guess when I'm 70 I may be one of those women - the ones who are in the moment, who don't care who's around or who hears them, who feel compelled to loudly discuss inconsequential and somewhat private drivel in public places - after all, to be fair that describes the entirety of this blog, so who am I to judge??? See you prolly didn't care to know the details of how I was preserving my blueberries, but I hadta tell you.
A few more of my favorite childrens' books:
This was a particularly special book to my kids, who never had blankets for woobidies but other objects instead. Every single time I read the name Owen I thought about screaming it the way Anne Ramsey did in Throw Momma from the Train. Never did. But I thought about it.
Gerald McBoing Boing is a hidden Dr. Seuss treasure. I always had to read this one using appropriate voices for each character.
As it turns out, my youngest son IS Gerald McBoing Boing.
This one is a favorite because my hunky hubby used to read it to my kids aaaaaaaaaaaall the tiiiiiiiiiime. Another one they could recite by rote. The reading of it produced a particular cadence, sort of a rhythm that always made me tilt and rock my head and shoulders like I was doing the snake. No matter what I was doing, when I heard them reading Dummer Hoff, my head and shoulders were movin'.
I don't know whether my kids loved Corduroy or if it was just me and they tolerated me reading it to them. It never was one they asked for by name, but I always threw it in anyway. Such a sweet story.