The boys flutter from bush to bush like butterflies, picking one or two berries before moving on. Once they got to the other side of a big patch, Edmund started calling out “Can you come find us Aunt Chava? Come find me Aunt Ellie!” Ellie and I, intent on our picking, turned them down. Edmund asked why, and Ellie told him that we were concentrating on our picking, since that is the right way to do it.
Both Edmund and Nathaniel then went silent, a rather unusual thing, and Ellie and I chatted for a while before I really noticed the odd silence.
“Boys, are you staying close?”
“Yes, Aunt Chava. We are concentrating on eating our berries, since that is the right way to do it!” was the smart reply from Edmund.
Nathaniel immediately corrected him, telling Edmund that he wasn’t eating his, he was saving them for a “yummy pie”.
The first time we went out, we also had Jeremiah and Elaine with us. Elaine, poor girl, is about as tall as the grass that surrounds the blackberry patches, so she would practically swim through the pasture to reach a bush. Once there, anytime she reached for a berry, she’d find a thorn first, and her hurt and offended “Ow!” was frequently heard. I commented to Ellie that Elaine was master of the perfect “ow”.
Throughout last night’s picking, any time anyone said ow, Edmund would pipe up, “Was that the perfect ow Chava? [or Ellie, as the case may be]”. At first we just laughed and said no, but as the picking advanced, we finally explained to him what would qualify as the perfect ow. He then tried it out several times, so we then explained that the element of true surprise was an integral part of the perfect ow’s makeup.
Very soon after this, Ellie grunted, and then said that she would have just made the perfect ow, but she swallowed it instead. Nathaniel asked what that meant, and I did my best to explain it. I love explaining things like this to children. I told him that it is when you are just about to say something, but you choose not to, and so you swallow it, and it goes back to where your words came from (hey, I can’t be perfectly literal when I explain things, how fun would that be?). He thought that sounded amusing, so he decided to swallow his next ow, next time he got pricked by a thorn. Since I didn’t hear him say ow for the rest of the evening, I’m guessing he learned how to swallow his words.
As the evening progressed, Ellie and I decided to switch places with the boys, and have them look for us around the blackberry bushes. So I told the boys that Ellie had disappeared, they went to find her, stayed with her for a while, then she returned the favor, with a few additions.
“Your Aunt Chava has disappeared! I bet she went over to the car to drive away without us, you should go find her!”
Edmund and Nathaniel starting talking and making their way to the car to catch me, when Ellie interrupted.
“I’m joking boys. She’s somewhere in the patch. She wouldn’t drive off without you. She isn’t like me, she’s nice.”
“So what are you Aunt Ellie?”
“No you’re not mean, you’re thin.” (Actual quote from Nathaniel, I kid you not.)
“You’re not mean, you’re nice.” (Smart guy, reword your answer when someone didn’t hear you the first time, makes it easier to understand)
Soon after that we headed back to the car, while discussing a skunk that I had seen earlier in the night.
Speaking of the skunk, the boys started talking aobut what skunks eat, and then went on to what other animals eat similar things. When they got to giraffe Edmund gave us the amazing news that giraffes can eat leaves, branches, and thorns.
This was a lovely idea to Nathaniel. “I wish I was a giraffe so that when I am picking blackberries, and a thorn gets in my way I can chew it up!”
Edmund, always very particular responded with, “You want to have a giraffe head but a human body?”
“No, I just want to be a giraffe!”
“No, just a regular giraffe!”
“But you said you wished you were a giraffe so that when you were picking, PICKING, blackberries, you could chew up the thorns.”
Long ago in this conversation Ellie and I were laughing uproariously. Edmund sounded every bit like an attorney cross examining a witness.