I am an early morning person. In order to beat the birds I have been picking blueberries most mornings around 5:30. I love the beginning of the day and the sound of the birds chirping loudly. Because this gives me what I like to call "inside my head time", all kinds of memories seem to surface.
This morning an old friend made a visit in my memories. Years ago while living in Baker I worked for the school district in the head office as the secretary to the assistant superintendent. This position also included the curriculum library and it was located at the back of the building near the loading dock. This is where the district custodian worked. He was a fun and sweet guy known as Gootch. I don't know how this nickname became him but it is the only thing that fits. In fact when someone asked about him using his real name of Bob I had to stop and think who that was.
Gootch and I were huckleberry fans and we would tell tales of finding the biggest and best patch up in the Eagle Mountains each year. We each just knew that we had the best picking spot ever. Of course he had been picking for many many years and knew all the best spots and had many tales to tell me. One particular story stands out in my mind and makes me laugh each time I think about it.
Gootch was a balding grandfatherly type with a little extra weight which gave him the jolly appearance that matched his twinkling eyes and ever present grin. He smoked a pipe and I can still smell the tobacco which for some reason was never offensive at all to me. We were talking about how it was difficult to pick the berries without eating more than you picked and he told me this story.
He and his sweet wife were picking berries and he had more purple stain on his mouth than in his bucket which his wife gave him a bad time about. While coming back down the trail from picking to get to their truck she felt the urge coming on. You know what I mean....a few too many berries makes for what he called "crapping a blue streak".
They knew she was not going to make it to the truck in time and there were no outhouses in this remote mountain area so he told her to do her business right there by the trail and he would be on the lookout for other people. However, he got a little side tracked finding more berries and neglected to see a few people coming along the trail. His poor wife was caught with her pants down around her ankles doing her thing and all he did was say "Howdy " to the hikers and acted like nothing out of the ordinary was happening. His wife was spitting mad at him and he laughed gleefully as he told me this story.
This is a shot of those Eagle Mountain caps where I have spent many summers picking those wild mountain berries. I used to always go for a long weekend and camp by myself and pick all weekend while the farmer stayed at home with the kids. I have not done this for several years and really miss it.
This is what the huckleberries look like. Very similar to blueberries but much smaller and sometimes reddish purple. The flavor is very intense. Nothing like it in the world.
I miss my old friend Gootch, who passed away in 2004. He called me "Sapphire".