Funny how the simplest things can be the most satisfying. Of course, everybody knows it and all the books say it and it’s a common theme in art and literature, but…sometimes, we still forget it.
I had dinner with most of my immediate family last night. There are 11 “immediates”: two parents, four siblings, three spouses, two nephews; eight of us still live within ten minutes of each other. (One sibling/spouse/nephew set recently moved to the Pacific Northwest, and they are much missed!) So the remaining eight gathered at one house for dinner–which we do about three nights a week (or more)–and it was the standard free-for-all of generational opinions, dogs, television, chairs scraping, multiple desserts, teasing, recovery-from-the-workday sort of event it usually is. The soundtrack, of course, is voiced in the odd, close-knit family patois we’ve developed over the years, which means our conversation needs subtitles if you didn’t grow up with us.
Here’s an example: In “double l” words, like belly and silly, the double l becomes a “j” sound, giving you “bejjy and sijjy.” Words that end in an “l” also become a “j”, so bowl is actually “boje.” Certain random “l” words also take on the “j”, so you could potentially talk about your “fujj sajad boje,” and any of us would understand that your receptacle full of fresh green vegetables and dressing is close to overflowing.
But I digress…
After dinner, we went to pick blueberries at a neighbor’s house. Six of us embarked on the journey, stuffing ourselves into a medium-sized SUV as if it were a clown car. Of course the blueberry bucket got left behind in the confusion, but there was a bucket of bubblegum in the car, so we emptied it out and dropped our harvest into the open mouth of Pud, the Dubble-Bubble Boy mascot.
The bubblegum bucket only got kicked over once, fairly early on, so not all the blueberries were twice-picked (once off the bush and once up off the ground). It’s early in the season, too, so the majority of berries weren’t ready yet; they were still sort of sort of a pale chambray color rather than the darker denim they’ll deepen into as they mature.
We picked enough for a pie and saved the rest for another time. Hopefully, the neighbors didn’t call the law on us, thinking we must be a hard-core band of blueberry thieves, leaving Grandma in the car as a look-out and sending The Kid scurrying back and forth between the pickers with his ill-gotten bubblegum bucket.
We probably did look odd as we toiled among the scrubby bushes in the August twilight, but something as simple as picking blueberries together was more fun than anything we could have planned, together or separately, for that evening. Maybe next time, I’ll share my mom’s recipe for blueberry pie–and I promise to translate all the words that don’t quite mean anything outside of the context of my family.