There are those experiences that touch all your senses. Unexpected gifts you will take with you always. After losing my mom, there are simply moments that hold so much power it's unexplainable. And they come most unexpectedly. As I sit to write this I find I need space to find my words, grateful everyone is asleep and the house is quiet. Anyone else love that time of night?
Montana settles the deepest part of me. Bringing my husband and boys back to where I'm rooted is very important because it's a place you don't really get until you experience it. One part of this is huckleberry picking.
My first job was cleaning huckleberries at The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse MT. Before that, every summer my family and I would pick huckleberries to sell, local restaurants willing to pay what felt like top dollar for these deep purple jewels. Once an epic patch is found, it is the talk of the town and family folklore. If prompted my grandma will tell you of when she shared a patch with a bear, because she was not about to budge from her patch. I remember the chill of frosty mornings, steep mountainsides and the anguish of spilled buckets (why do we never put lids on them), purple stained fingers and the giant boombox my mom would bring, blasting music to scare off any bears within a 20 mile radius.
Now, picking these wild berries is always on my checklist when we visit, hoping I timed our trip exactly with the right amount of summer precipitation and hot weather - just so we can eat them. I'm sure they are a superfood, and they don't come easy.
We drive up a bumpy windy, long skinny road and park. This time Nick is going to "pick" with the boys and they go to find a creek. I head up the mountain with my Aunt. It's about finding huckleberries, and then I remember my mom. Surrounded by huckleberry bushes she is there with me, and the memories and senses float back to me. I close my eyes and almost almost hear her. Almost.
Then I hear my littlest wanting to find me. I yell half-heartedly through the trees. But he's determined and he finds me. Again I'm all business.
But so is he. And he wants to pick every single berry, no berry left behind, so determined and focused. Allowing himself every 4th berry to "pop" in his mouth. And when it's time to go he's "not quite ready." And there like a wave - I see my mom in my son.
And in that moment my son can know his grandma.
And we can share a new memory of my mom.
I managed to bring back a prized gallon of berries thanks to my Montana family.
So now as we eat huckleberry pancakes, we talk about how P is just like his grandma Chris in a way only she knew until this summer.
The simple incredible gift of a journey that brought us to that mountain patch.
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