She had a slight build and was not very tall; even on the hottest summer days in Central Pennsylvania, she wore heavy flat-heeled black boots. Tightly laced above her ankles, they caused her feet to look disproportionately large as she walked door to door in my childhood neighborhood.
The Blueberry Lady donned a full-length apron over a Sunday going-to-meeting dress with long, bellowing sleeves that wrapped around her arms like frilly balloons.
The blue denim apron, which looped around her neck and tied in the middle of her back, had an industrial look to it.
White cotton gloves that were more suited for afternoon tea made her rough, swollen hands appear refined. She wore a large straw sunhat that shaded her face and hid what hair she may have had.
A deep galvanized aluminum pail, three-quarters filled with blueberries, hung from the crook of one arm, while the other swayed to and fro in time with her methodical gate.
We named her the Blueberry Lady because we didn't know her real name. We didn't know where she lived or if she had a family, either.
We did know she came bearing wild blueberries as large as bing cherries. We knew that with five children and one on the way, my mother was one of her best customers.
We knew Mom usually bought a quart or two, and later would heap them into small bowls, and drown them in whole milk with a sprinkle of sugar on top.
We did know the Blueberry Lady. Oh, what sweet relief she gave us on hot, sticky summer afternoons.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
� 2007 Paula Damon