Thursday, July 24, 2008

Berry Bus

Every weekday morning just after 8:00, a yellow school bus stops in front of our apartment to pick up several children. I'm not sure where they are going. Maybe summer school or day care. 

If this was the 1950s or 60s, they would be headed out to the berry fields for a day of picking strawberries or raspberries. Of course the pick up time would be more like 6:00 am and each child would be carrying a lunch and wearing a hat to shade them from the sun. When they arrived home in the afternoon they would be dusty, covered with berry stains and a few dollars richer. 

My mother wouldn't let me ride the berry bus, but I had my fill of picking with my grandfather. He had raspberries in a field next to his house, a large strawberry field near the airport, a farm in Tualatin, a prune orchard in Dundee, and filberts (now called hazelnuts) on Rex Hill. Grandpa would woo us with stories and promises of great things, but I don't remember ever being paid. It all seemed like a good idea the night before and a big mistake at 5:00 am. 

Being the smallest, I always had to sit in the middle of the front seat of his rattle trap pickup with the tall stick bumping my knees. Many things didn't work well including the exhaust pipe which seemed to vent right into the cab. Sometimes when the brakes failed my grandfather would stop by turning into a slope along the road. He always reminded us not to tell our mother about any of these unimportant details.

My older sister was a hard worker and always filled her flats faster than I did. I was more into eating berries and day dreaming than picking. I preferred raspberries to strawberries both for the eating and the picking. Raspberries grow at a more convenient height. 

As I sit here musing over the berry bus, I wonder what memories these children will have of their yellow school bus.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you - I also prefer eating and daydreaming, coming home with the stains and smells of blackberries all over me.