What a beautiful day it was. The summer heat hauntingly perfect. We played hooky from swim class yesterday and piled into the car with my sisters and mother in law. It was just what I needed. A break from the routine. To step away from the shuffle and just give in to the moment. I like to fancy myself a patient person, but the constant hurrying from place to place with a three year old (that would prefer to stop for a moment and watch the dust in the light, or pick up every stick from our house to the car) can be wildly challenging for me. I forget sometimes to let go of the agenda. It’s not that I don’t value our routine; I need it. But what I need in tandem is a departure from the self-inflicted pressure. What a nurturing reminder it was to leave that all behind, to take a day in free form.
We were a sight. Four woman and two babies smooshed into the car, one laying in the far back of our 4-runner, Music-Together jams blasting, embarking on an adventure. The chaos of life fading behind us (chaos caused by two small children in a car notwithstanding). We were enveloped by the simplicity of our goals, by the comforting feeling of being with people who were also exactly where they wanted to be.
Moving to Portland has been an adventure in its own right. Arriving somewhere new, unpacking with the madness of two babies, and then the sudden death of my sweet twenty-three-year-old brother exactly one month after our arrival. Our adjustment process has been splintered and scattered, but this place has provided us with a few saving graces. Above all, the high mountains, waterfalls and sweet sleepy countrysides that surround the city provide refuge and rejuvenation. There is comfort in being able to leave the streets that all echo with memories of my brother and be in a place of beauty. And just a short drive outside of Portland is one of these magical little places we have come to love, Sauvie Island, a farm community sweetly nestled in the middle of the Columbia. In between the flower farms and stretching grassy fields, small nature preserves are tucked away, teeming with birds, trees and most importantly, blackberries.
We brought our metal bowls and parked in a small grassy parking lot off the road. Berries everywhere. Sweet, thorny and perfectly ripe. While the u-picks offer guaranteed berry bliss, there is nothing I love as dearly as the magic of picking wild berries. We ambled along, eating, sitting, getting our feet properly dusty and our arms properly prickled. In dresses and sandals (the second I might recommend against) we picked until our stained hands had filled our bowls. Eloise’s little body grooving to her new “black berry picking, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” refrain, and Desmond eating all the berries he could get his hands on. How sweet those small hands happily reaching, little perfect pictures of summer and joy.
It was enchanting to pick berries with my sisters and my children, to remember our endless summer adventures and hear recollections of my husband’s childhood from my mother-in-law. I feel so whole when I get to share this kind of magic with the people I love.
After some time we departed from our blackberry haven and drove up the road to a beautiful u-pick farm. There, we continued our day among the flowers and peach trees. We roamed through the giant sunflower patch, ate sweet sun-warmed peaches off the tree. My schedule thrown to the wind, we were late to nap, late to lunch, and all extremely content. It is days like these, full of beauty and nature, that I remember the places that truly feel like home. Oh these warm and magic fragments of summer that leave us browned, tired and happy. Thank you for this glorious easy day. I needed a reminder that they still exist.