Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In the Pygmy Forest

Late in the season we went huckleberrying in the Pygmy Forest at Jughandle Creek. The bushes were so laden, the berries hung like grapes. In no time at all, I had 25 pounds of berries weighting me down, but it was getting late—twilight, the color of crushed berries. A false light. No real direction of home. We circled and came back to the same copse of pygmy trees. Three times. The only time I ever got us lost. The lichen encrusted cypresses were not much taller than us, and maddenly thin, like broomhandles, so you couldn't climb them to see where you were. We were trapped in a thick fairytale forest of venerable age. No glimpse of the ocean to orient myself. The temperature plummeted. We left our sweaters in the car. Think, don't follow your instinct. I found the lip of of the marine terrace, and from there, fighting against the surety of instinct, I worked my way backwards to the parking lot. Suddenly I understood how people who lose their way in the forest, always circled back to the starting point. Like gyrating dreidels. I ate humble pie. My granny never knew I had gotten us lost. I never said a word either. At Pat & Betty's cabin in Fort Bragg, we unloaded our bounty. And the pies we made afterward were made of twilight. That night our dreams were the color of midnight and studded with stars.




first draft
I once went huckleberrying in the Pygmy Forest at Jughandle Creek with my granny in the mid 70s. We scored bigtime. I had something like 25 pounds of berries, and it was getting late—twilight. No real direction of light indicators. The ONLY time I ever got lost (for a while...). Trees were taller than us, and maddenly thin, like broomhandles, so you couldn't climb them to see where you were. I had to use the marine terrace boundary to relocate myself and work back from there. But the pies we made were the best ever. All that soil stress makes for hucklenerries with superb flavor and size.

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