In August I will have been married for 35 years to a wonderful man, but it’s not easy for two people to live together that long and continue to appreciate one another. Recently on a simple excursion to pick blueberries, I was aggravated by his behavior but then happily reminded about why I married him. This is my blueberry love story.
Picking fruit at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland is a family tradition. Nostalgic memories reside in me like friends who lived in my old neighborhood and never moved away. I was trapped in the past missing my children and the laughter I loved hearing in my house. My husband quite simply wanted a fresh blueberry pie with a scoop of Breyers vanilla ice cream.
We weighed our containers in the store and drove to the fields. Years ago you could drive directly to the bushes but the industry has grown and the popularity such that now customers park their cars and board wagons pulled by tractors. They take you to the rows and rows of ripe blueberries and a young worker waves a red flag to assign you a place to pick fruit.
We got our row and began plopping our bluest berries into the buckets. Immediately, I hear a mom, “Be careful to pick only the blue ones. The green ones aren’t ripe yet.” The children chatter away as do the pickers, “These are bigger than last year.” “Wow, this bush is loaded!” I smile and remember my own children’s chatter and look up to see that my husband is no where in sight. Typical, I think. He probably thought he could find bigger berries if he went out on his own or maybe the children’s chatter got on his nerves. My husband is a rule breaker! Oh well, I shrugged. He will turn up eventually.
I continue to pick berries for about an hour and when my bucket is full and also my bladder, I decide I better look for a familiar T-shirt or ball cap. My husband wears ball caps to protect his bald head form burning and to keep the sun out of his eyes. He began going bald in his late twenties and while this may be tragic for some men, he has handled it with grace but not style. The reason he has so many hats is that whenever we go on trips, he forgets to bring one and so we have one of every color from every state we ever visited. My personal favorites are the bright red one from Tombstone, Arizona or the beige one that used to be white that says Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If he doesn’t have a hat from a state then he has a t-shirt. He is not attracted to t-shirt with small lettering on the left breast bone but the ones that have huge splashes of color and design or the ones you get for free on family baseball nights. He especially loves to wear free t-shirts. I digress. So I begin to scour the 30 rows of blueberry bushes for a Boulder Colorado cap I think and realize this could take awhile.
So I am getting hot and bothered as they say. Walking up and down rows of bushes and I finally spot him. I begin waving my arms. He spots me too but then resumes his blueberry picking. Now I really have to pee. I am already thinking about the bumpy tractor ride. So I yell his name and he looks up and I pantomime having to pee. I frantically cross my legs in one direction and then the other and then begin holding myself the way a 3 year old does in the middle of a shopping mall. He gets the picture. He begins to walk my way.
Now when he comes to me I say, “I need to find a bathroom.” These are words that he has heard often in the last 30 years. I have TB—tiny bladder. My husband has been stopping at bathrooms in every state in the union about every 60 miles or so for all of our married life. We quickly board first and take the seat closest to the back so I can get off quickly. Mothers, dads, grandmas, aunts and uncles of various nationalities and sizes all join us with their plethora of colorful buckets and baskets. Soon the wagon is off down the windy country road and everyone is happy and enjoying this family outing, this Americana experience.
Suddenly there is commotion in the front of the car, heads are turning left and right and we all crane our necks to the back of the wagon to see a child’s hat lying dead center on the dirt road. The wagon continues to chug along happily and the hat sits all alone in the middle of the dusty road. All eyes turn to the parents as they stare in vain at the lonely hat and at the back of the innocent driver’s head. The father looks at the driver to signal him to stop, but the driver is wearing headsets to drown out the noise. Next thing you know this middle aged bald man whom I married hops off the back of the moving wagon, surprising us all and disappears from our view. Everyone on board is staring out the back now to see if the nice, old guy can make it. Twenty pairs of eyes all searching for signs of life. And there he is. Running toward the wagon with all his might, clenching the child’s sunhat in his hand and pumping his arms to reach the moving wagon. Now he is within inches of our moving wagon and only has to climb the two steps. With one gallant leap, he is in! I am not a widow!
All eyes are on his Boston POPs t-shirt. I look into the eyes of the man in the Napa Valley Wine cap. His brow and face are filled with perspiration. Everyone claps at this hero, my husband! I laugh so hard that I pee in my pants! (Just slightly, of course) The hat is passed to the front of the wagon by multiple hands and returned to the head of the child who didn’t know it was missing. The parents are grinning ear to ear. I am laughing in total delight. Grateful, they thank him and offer my husband a bottle of water.
Now I need to remind myself about why I married the man that I did. I do wish he cared more about looking stylish. But none of those other handsomely dressed dads were courageous enough to jump off the bandwagon to help a small child. I married my husband because he is considerate. He has been rescuing me and our children with his kind gestures for over thirty years. We didn’t argue about his disappearing act. We have already argued about that a zillion times. I found the porta-potty. The child got his hat back and my husband ate a glorious, mouthwatering blueberry pie! Oh my, but you should have tasted that pie!