August 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 11, 2017

Pipers are calling to blueberries plumping on the bush. Anytime Superior fog rolls in and the air turns cool and smells like rain on bedrock, locals nod and say, “Berry growing weather.” At times the gray coolness confounds my sense of season, and I scoff that berries are growing on the Keweenaw when elsewhere I know temperatures are blasting heat across most of North America, and in Kansas the tomatoes grow visibly in the time it takes to drink a cold bottle of hard cider.

Evidently blueberries grow in the coolness of Copper Country. Maybe the plants root over lost veins of native copper and beef up on mineral supplements organically occurring in the skim of dirt abandoned by miners. Pans of blueberries cover the kitchen counters, tempting me to pluck “just a few” and go back to writing at my improvised dining room office. They are as real as the tomatoes down south I imagine sliced and sprinkled with lemon pepper. It must be summer nonetheless in the western hemisphere.

My plaid shirt is appropriate — it hides any blueberry stains upon its dark blue and gray weave and makes the piping feel like the song of my soul. I’m not imagining that one — the pipers are truly calling. Every Thursday they practice bagpipes at the fire station a few blocks down the hill. On a rainy day full of the dreary work of a writer — line editing, communicating with designers and setting up phone interviews for client work — I’m whisked away to the magical realm within by the sharp simplicity of berries and music.

There’s a key scene in Rock Creek: Nancy Jane is burying her baby, digging the prairie dirt alone. Her Pa has gone off to borrow a suit. Never mind the suit’s owner wasn’t around; Joseph Holmes is not one to feel obliged to have permission. Whiskey is often the only lens he has on navigating life. Unfortunately he crosses paths with a small group of men on horseback headed to a road station. One is a fiddler from Appalachia, a descendant of ousted Scots-highlanders and a former sheriff. The other is his cousin and the third man is the owner of the suit. Thus Nancy Jane meets Cobb McCanles the day he drags her father across the prairie sod to test the man’s questionable story that he borrowed the suit for his grandson’s funeral.

In the hero’s journey, the structure I use to frame novels, or even in the three-act classic structure, certain scenes act as keystones to the story’s architecture. Some of you might recognize this scene because I’ve played with it in flash fiction previously. As the story takes shape, I revisit this scene and dig deeper. It has an emotion so buried, I must go beneath the prairie roots to untangle it, and bring it to the surface. Why do the women of Rock Creek matter? Because, for so long, their buried (and burying) stories have gone unheard.

Why do we hear pipers calling in our hearts and minds as much as in our ears? It penetrates us deeply; an emotion difficult to articulate; an experience we have and label it life. Life is a simple four-letter word. No embellishments. No tongue-twister. It’s neither harsh nor sweet to hear. It’s easy to say. Difficult to define. The pipers play life notes and berries taste like a moment suspended from life. This is the taste, the feel of the life experience I’m chasing down on the page from the women who came from Scotland in the 1700s to the lone prairie a hundred years later:

If you recognize the song, you’ll understand it is a musical score to represent on of the great American classics in literature: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. He wrote romantic (not Harlequin, classical) histories about American frontiers. I think of my path as parallel, only I’m rewriting the frontiers to include women and their myriad of motives beyond, “I’ll go do the dishes now.” Which brings me to another song that reminds me of women and the West:

I’m looking for Nancy Jane’s prairie song, for Mary’s, for Sarah’s. Where is the John Wayne for women?

Pipes and berries know no gender. Say what you want about traditions but anyone can listen to the pipes and pick berries. We’ve conditioned ourselves to receive male stories of epic adventure and diminish female stories as domestic. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a frontiers woman. Just because she wore braids didn’t mean she only did dishes and poked a needle in some fabric. Heck no, Laura was out running the banks of Plum Creek, chasing her dog Jack and riding her horse at breakneck speeds along the shores of prairie lakes. It’s not surprising that I went from her series of books to Ian Fleming’s. Laura prepared me for adventure and it never occurred to me that only men could be James Bond.

However, it crept into my early writing, focusing on male leads because I wanted to write epic westerns and exciting histories. Now I seek to polish up experiences like Laura’s and present frontier women unfiltered. To me, what remains key is finding those moments that feel like pipers calling to summer berries. Motives. Passion. Regret and revenge. Dreams. Death. Life. Passing on one’s tightly held blueberry of a moment to another. Pipes. End scene.

August 10, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include music and berries. It can be fantastical, such as the music of berries or a story that unfolds about a concert in a berry patch. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 15, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published August 16). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Forbidden Fruit (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Save the seeds,” Nancy Jane said, berry juice running down her chin and cleavage.

“To plant?”

“Nah. To make Otoe dice. Fun game.”

A canopy of trees dappled the sun where bluffs and a thicket of buffalo berries barricade this hidden spring. Nancy Jane bathed here. Naked. No wonder she laughed when Sarah protested hiking her skirts to ride horseback astride.

Sarah sank her teeth into the small black fruit with a golden center, wanting to laugh. If she did, Cobb might hear. Perhaps a trick of the mind, but she swore she heard strains of his fiddle nearby.


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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Your characters shine in this fine flash. I think I know Nancy Jane. Buffalo berries? Huh. Those I don’t know. Raspberries have been hard to keep up with, blueberries too, and blackberries just beginning, a bad sign, as it indicates my summer’s end.

    • Charli Mills

      I did my due diligence, trying to research Nancy Jane. The silent record and the few snippets of her mention speak volumes. Yes, I know you know Nancy Jane (the wild ones recognize her). And she deserves her story being known among the tales of proper women and women who pushed handcarts and women who did laundry and stints in brothels. But you caught me on the buffalo berries! Totally fake. I had in mind wild plums and thought there was a pioneer nickname for them. It was American plums…now they have a nickname. Ah, may the blackberry harvest slow down and elongate time.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        They sounded like plums to me in the flash. I googled buffalo berries, that’s a whole other critter, looks like they might be related to Russian Olive.

      • Charli Mills

        Do you have honey locust in your neck of the woods? They feature in the story, but no berries, and definitely not as sweet as honey. More like the stinger.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Believe it or not buffaloberries exist. Native to Northern and western North America. Scientific name Shepherida belonging to the Elaeagnaceae family. Common name buffaloberry or bullberry.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, I’ve heard of bullberries! I’ve never actually seen them, and that’s an interesting article. I think it’s funny how fruits and vegetables get hailed as “superfruits” as if they can ward death. Just eat more fruits and veggies in the first place! I wish cheese was the next super food…Thanks for sharing that article. Seems they grow in the Dakotas.

    • Norah

      I googled Buffalo berries and came up blank too. Wondered if they might be large dingle berries. LOL

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! In that case they would be sought after for their capacity as fuel — for campfires!

      • Norah

        I thought that! 🙂

  2. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    You’ve made my evening sweet and bright with berries, bagpipes, and a almost-forgotten ballad from younger days. Thanks for the lift!

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      (Sometimes the bitter makes the sweet more powerful…)

    • Charli Mills

      I’m delighted I could share the special moment in an uplifting way! That ballad makes me want to break out the CD. 🙂

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Oh, yeah:

    Laying By

    “Thank you for the coffee in bed, sorry I’m so lazy, it’s just that morning sounds have become such sweet music to me.”
    “That’s okay, Mom, we don’t mind, do we Dad?”
    He grunted his assent and lingered with his own coffee after Hope left to tend her chickens. “Everything okay, I mean, you ain’t got your traveling itch again do you?”
    “If you must know, I plan on traveling to that spot over the hill where the blackberries are, fill some buckets, and then come back, scratches and all, and make jam… Stop worrying, I love it here.”

    • Charli Mills

      You picked strong details, Joelle! Thought-provoking, too.

      • floridaborne


        Strange thing is — I’ve been on both sides of it in my life. When you grow up lower middle class, people in school think you’re trash; and when I was upper middle-class in my late 20’s/early 30’s appearances became everything. “Shallow” is a good word to use for that time in my life.

      • helentastic67

        I’m sure you were not as shallow as you imagine. If not, we live and learn. Cheers,H

      • floridaborne

        I think the “live and learn” part is appropriate here. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I can relate, Joelle. I think often that veneer of image compensates for our acute awareness that we were not always “socially accepted.” There’s been some great reads lately about class structure in America. You flash made me think of that.

    • jeanne229

      Super flash. Just loved the contrast between presumptions and reality. Between ignorance (“It’s weird, the nose-picker exclaims…) and quiet knowledge. Beautiful details and strong dialogue.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  4. helentastic67

    Nnnnnnoooooooo!!!!!!! Why blueberries? I did about 4 seasons when I was young. Although it was better than my one morning of picking cherries. Picked the wrong side of the tree first. No really! Got heatstroke! Slept on a bullants nest under the tree. No really! Your welcome. Cheers, H

    • Charli Mills

      I kind of feel that way about firewood. The wrong side of the tree…! 🙂 That’s like roping the wrong end of the steer. Wait, that can happen. Sleep on this one and come back with a flash because I recognize a teller of tales!

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Plum Crazy

    “Is Shorty plum crazy? What’s she want us gathering buffalo chips for? That what she uses fer charcoal?”
    “No, Kid, she wants berries. So let’s go git some buffalo berries.”
    “Hmph, buffalo berries. Shorty makin’ pies agin? I reckon with buffalo berries it’ll be like a cow pie.”
    “They’re not chips.”
    “Hey, while we’re at it, let’s git some horse muffins too.”
    “Kid, will you ever stop fiddlin’ around?”
    “Heck no. Shorty wants music too, so I’ll jest keep on fiddlin’, thank you berry much.”
    “I hope Shorty is plannin’ on fermentin’ some of these berries.”
    “Yep, wine not?”

    • Charli Mills

      Berry good fiddlin’ with the yarn, D.! Fermentation can have unexpected results, mostly good. Nothing to wine about and can cure what ales you!

    • Norah

      You’re in fine form with this one, Kid. We were on the same wavelength – buffalo chips and dingle berries. Almost the same thing. Horse muffins too. Why not? But please don’t save me a piece of that pie. Wine not! If ya need to ask, there’s no point in tellin’.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        “Hey Kid, what’s up?”
        “Hey. Yunno, I been havin’ a lot of trouble with this berry thing. Cain’t find much of anything nowheres.”
        “Didja ask around at all?”
        “Naw, but I did bump into Aussie.”
        “Is a dingo berry somethin’ that dingoes eat? You know those coyote like dogs down there where she’s from?”
        “That what Aussie said?”
        “She mentioned dingo berries. I was afraid to ask.”
        “Afraid of Aussie?”
        “Well, she’s so smart an’ all.”
        “Oh, she’s smart all right. Sassy too, I’m thinkin’, talkin’ dingo berries in mixed company.”
        “Jeez, it’s just a berry.”
        “Where’s Aussie?!”

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Have to agree with Norah. fine form and quick off the mark. Now dingo berries would you believe….

      • Norah

        I’m not sure about those, Irene. Wasn’t too happy with what Dr Google was telling me.

      • Charli Mills

        An international berry incident is brewing! 🙂

      • Norah

        I hope we don’t all end up in a stew!

    • Deborah Lee

      These are great! Very punny. And I’ll take some wine for sure, but I’ll pass on the dingleberries.

      • Norah

        I would pass on the dingle berries too! 🙂

    • Norah

      Dingo berries! That’s hilarious! I love your response. You certainly have a gift with these stories. I want to see a whole book of them. You have me in stitches. Dingo berries, dingle berries, buffalo berries! I’m not sure that Aussie’s as smart as you think. She might be a bit over-ripe! 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        1. Thank you
        2. Any similarities between these fictional characters and real people is strictly coincidence as this is fiction
        3. Book? These Ranch Yarns were gifted to Ms. Mills weeks ago; you’ll have to deal with her.
        4. They are corralled for now at:

      • Norah

        1. You’re welcome.
        2. I know. I always see people I know in what I read. 🙂
        3. Oh, I’d seen that. And forgotten.
        4. Yep, I love reading them.
        5. You’re very clever, you know!

  6. robbiesinspiration

    A really enjoyable post, Charli. I love Laura Ingalls Wilder and have read all her books over and over again. Your 99-word flash fiction was fun!

    • Charli Mills

      I find myself thinking about her books often. I might have to read them again. My daughter still has the collection I gave her as a little girl, sitting among all her massive volumes of fantasy and science texts.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! You stepped into that prompt!

      • Michael

        I’m still drying my feet ????

    • Charli Mills

      Blueberries are a delight from picking to pancakes and everything else in between. Do you go to a farm or pick wild? We used to pick huckleberries wild in Idaho.

    • Charli Mills

      Jack, I also liked the song you chose for the flash. Nicely done from that point of memory.

  7. Pete

    My sister sits with her feet propped up on the dinner table. She tosses blueberries into her mouth, one after another, recklessly, how she does everything. Without rinsing or worrying about E Coli or choking hazards.

    It’s a mystery we’re related. Mona flies into each day, bobbing to the music in her head, trusting things will work out. Not me, I wash everything—hands, food, teeth—compulsively.

    Mom and Dad return from their walk. Dad steals a blueberry and one of Mona’s ear buds, bobbing along like a goof. Mom settles beside me. She asks how homework is going.

    • jeanne229

      Ah….great evocation of the universal mystery of inheritance. I have voiced the same puzzlement many times over relationship to a sibling. This is a sweetly funny flash with such deftly realized insight into the characters.

    • Charli Mills

      Such sharp writing, Pete. Great characterization through comparison of sibling traits and the bonus is how Mom and Dad respond to each child. Good one!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s terrific fun, Di!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Robbie! I’m delighted you like the prompts. Rather tasteful, this week. Thanks for joining in!

  8. Annecdotist

    Just wondering if you have cloud berries out there? Here they grow on the moorland alongside blueberries, but don’t hear about people collecting them to eat in the same way – although I have to say our wild blueberries are very small and it would be a lot of work to make a pie.
    A busy few days ahead away from the computer (on the moors tomorrow, hoping there’ll still be blueberries around, followed by three days of the music workshop) – so although your prompt ties in with what I’m up to, I didn’t think I’d manage a flash. But it’s done, and the post is scheduled for Monday – hopefully I’ll remember to come back and post the link.

    • Charli Mills

      I think cloud berries are known as salmon berries in Alaska. Here in Michigan, thimbleberries grow and I’m going to look for some this weekend. I hear they are red and ripe. Huckleberries in north Idaho were like tiny wild blueberries, but the hardest one to gather are tinier: elderberries. Yes, it take a bucketful to make a pie! Enjoy your moor time and I hope there’s yet blueberries for you. Your life is imitating art, well, a prompt to one at least. Have a good time!

      • Norah

        I can’t believe there are so many berries! And elderberries tiny! They must need a lot to make elderberry wine.

  9. Kerry E.B. Black

    I’m longing for autumn, perhaps because summer has been such a muddle for my family. Here’s my “berries and song” prompted offering. Care to step into the obscuring mist with me?

    From the Obscuring Mist
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    A merry band of trick-or-treaters skipped along the sidewalk, elbows locked, voices raised in wolfish songs and merry laughter. Parents followed, lugging the kids’ sacks of sweet loot.
    Fog curled from the valley, obscuring autumn leaves gathered along bone-white fences underplanted with berry bushes. Nearby, an owl hooted.
    From the obscuring mist another costumed group emerged. The small ones added their voices to the wild song. Their caregivers’ lips sparkled with adult distractions- drinks and elicit kisses.
    The youth embarked on promised adventures with their new companions. As the children sampled other-worldly treats, the others gathered their innocent souls.

    • jeanne229

      Such lyrical writing. Masterful use of verbs and senses. “Fog curled from the valley, obscuring autumn leaves gathered along bone-white fences underplanted with berry bushes. Nearby, an owl hooted.”

    • Charli Mills

      Great choice of words and use of verbs that build the scene, set the tone and deliver the punch. It reminds me of a John Saul novel in 99 words! I hope autumn is kind and lingering to your family, less of summer’s muddle.

  10. Kerry E.B. Black

    Summer Berries
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Erin and Marlin squeezed berries at each other, laughing as the early sun bronzed their noses and cheeks. Erin considered her stained fingers. They stuck together and tugged when she peeled them apart. “Don’t get the juice in your mouth, Marlin. It’ll make you sick.”
    Marlin’s laughter rivaled the lazy music of the bees. “Who’d want to drink this mess, anyway?” A berry burst within his grasp, erupting pulp and seeds. “I do wonder what they taste like.”
    Erin chewed the inside of her cheek. “Me, too.”
    Marlin touched his tongue to his palm. “Sweet.”
    Erin ran for help.

    • Charli Mills

      Berries and song have captivated you, Kerry! I’m delighted to see an outpouring of inspiration. I really like these two characters and how you describe their play with the berries. Well, until curiosity sets in!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      If I click on your address it goes to my posting page. Strange.

    • julespaige

      I have the same issue as D. Avery – the music isn’t playing…

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      What th’ heck. It goes to MY posting page, too.
      I’d rather read your work!

    • Charli Mills

      I hope they give you good thoughts, Diana! 🙂 Great use of “summer cadence” in your flash as the music.

    • Charli Mills

      It was a WP glitch in the link. It’s fixed!

    • dnagai

      Sorry I didn’t respond! I am turning on email notifications now! Glad this glitch was fixed, as it seemed ok on my end. Phew.

  11. denmaniacs4

    Alas, Charli, I used up my only bagpipe story last week.

    Flames of Memory

    The air this morning is a smoky hymn, a thin grey hum of haze hanging from the horizon like a tract of flimsy flypaper.

    Though she knows this choking vapour has floated in over the straight from the interior of the Province and that it’s the residue of fiery loss, of dislocation, she is mesmerized by its fugue of gloom.

    She has always loved fire.

    “Many have lost their homes, their livelihood,” I remind her.

    “I know that,” she snaps, “but…what would Grandma say if she was here…it’s the berries.”

    That crazy old lady also loved a good fire.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s okay, Bill. You brought a new song to play and it’s a beauty! Great imagery of the fires. Fire has many sides; they are tragically good for huckleberries and morels. In fact fire morels are a big deal in Idaho. I do hope the fires are reaching containment in Canada and the West, though. They are always devastating.

  12. Norah

    What a fabulous post and combination of ideas, Charli. I’m particularly interested that you are talking about defining the women of the west in a post that focuses also on blueberries. I was prompted by your prompt, to investigate the definition of a berry. I knew that some of our fruits were really berries, and some we call berries aren’t. Wikipedia tells me that a berry is “a fleshy fruit without a stone produced from a single flower containing one ovary.” Obviously very female, and a blueberry fits the description. Life begins with an ovary, so your final paragraph with the words “Death. Life. Passing on one’s tightly held blueberry of a moment to another.” is particularly apt.
    Your flash had me searching for information re buffalo berries and otoe dice. Unfortunately, I came up blank so am compelled to use my imagination. I am picturing some small red seeds like those used by Australia’s indigenous peoples to make necklaces and other items of jewellery. But I am not sure about the dice or the game.
    The flash is effective, though, in adding more definition to the characters of Nancy Jane and Sarah. Such sadness Nancy Jane must have felt when burying her baby. The blueberry that she passed to another didn’t make it to fruition.
    Since so many of the berries, as you say is so for the blueberries too, prefer cooler weather, I didn’t have much access to them as a child. Refrigeration, transportation, and adjusted growing conditions make many varieties of berries now available all year round. How delicious!

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my contribution to the berry feast – a mulberry stew. While it’s not a true story, it might have been. I hope you like it.

      • jeanne229

        How did mother know indeed! Love the play on words in the title!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Jeanne. I’m pleased it worked.

      • Norah

        I can’t actually imagine a mulberry stew, but I guess that’s what we did to make the pies; we stewed them.

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        I have a great pic of my daughter at about age 10, palms of hands and soles of her feet stained from the Mulberry tree out back. Luckily caught her before she’d applied TOO much around her mouth! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Mulberry is one I’ve not had but remember a song at school involving a mulberry bush.

      • Norah

        Anne also reminded me of the nursery rhyme, which hadn’t presented itself to me when I was writing. Oh well, it’s maybe a good thing. I may have ended up going around in circles. 🙂

    • jeanne229

      I don’t remember access to berries very much either, growing up in AZ. Much less picking them off a bush! But your flash did call to mind the huge mulberry tree in our back yard, which provided a black-purple bounty each spring. Even then I appreciated what a treasure that was.

      • Norah

        The mulberry tree, as I recall was also great for climbing and its branches were strong enough to swing from in order to get the higher berries.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your deeper reading and adding to the understanding of true berries having an ovary. That surprised me because I didn’t know and yet makes the description more poignant. Also, Sarah and Nancy Jane both buried babies, and the fact they are truly eating plums (a false berry because they have seeds) adds to their loss in a way. As for Otoe dice, I came across that obscurity in an old book — the seeds are small and bead-like. They are black, but white when scraped. So half a seed would be scraped. Many seeds made up the game and were tossed in a birch box like dice. Whoever tossed the most seeds white side up won the round. Funny how we humans like such games of chance. Ah! You must greatly appreciate the availability of berries now!

      • Norah

        The loss of a baby is an interesting connection between the two women. The heart of the plum is a stone, so I guess that gives even more meaning to their “fruit”.
        Thanks for sharing about the Otoe dice. I guess humans have been gamblers all along. I’m not sure we’ll like the outcome of some of the more recent gambles though.
        Yes, I do love the berries that are available – especially with the addition of sugar and cream!

  13. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    It took a clear summer day and a cool night to let this one roll out. Mixing memories and dreams.

    Grim Harvest

    Lilimor slipped out the back gate, trotting to the meadow as fast as her little legs could carry her. She’d wanted to arrive at sunrise, before anyone noticed she was gone.

    Rounding the hill, she crowed in delight at the sparkling field of dewy wild strawberries. She plucked one and tasted the sweetness of afternoon sun and magical, cool nights.

    Squatting, she strung berries, tiny as her pinky nail, onto a thread-thin stem of meadow grass. Her mother would be so pleased to have these with her morning smørbrød.

    ‘Twas then she heard the fiddle, beckoning from the waterfall.

    • jeanne229

      Delightful. Oh for a taste of a small wild strawberry from the field…And the sound of the fiddle…who could resist the call?

    • Charli Mills

      Leave it to a shift in weather to feed the imagination. The title concerns me that the beckoning is a different kind of harvest.

    • Norah

      Eerie. What happens next!

  14. julespaige

    Charli and Community:

    Swamped with rain, mowing and chores and some little visitors too.
    Berries and music… a nice combination for fiction. Though I am sure I am far from finished with my characters – I changed up from my original thoughts and stuck in an extra prompt to save myself some time… Please enjoy:

    Berry Befuddled
    (Janice vs Richard #17

    Berry Befuddled
    (Janice vs Richard #17)

    Carla Scott was visiting Janice when Longhorn called.
    Richard had been back to Janice’s home with some nasty
    intent. He must have lost some focus on his reality. He had
    taken and eaten berries from her bushes, But had a violent
    reaction, and vomited in the kitchen sink. Although he had
    attempted some clean up – Richard left fingerprints, as well
    as shoe prints in the garden… and he left a trail.

    This was music to Janice’s ears. Though there might still
    be a long row to hoe, at least maybe there was going to
    be a soothing Coda soon.


    • Charli Mills

      Rain and mowing seem correlated! Hope you are enjoying the little visitors. I’m delighted to see Longhorn closing in on Richard. It’s surprising where the story takes you, as the writer.

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t that a delicious sleep? To need a blanket? And to have a kitchen counter full of berries, too. Now that’s a good day!

    • Norah

      We’ve hardly had a winter. Am I bad to dread our summer coming? It’s already here and it’s not spring yet.

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Cloludberries! Best with heavy whipped cream, slid inside a Krumkake, and accompanied by song. Brought back memories! 🙂

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Glad to bring back memories. We used to eat them as a syrup over ice cream with our Swedish friends. All food with Swedes seems to be accompanied by song with a little schnapps and a beer chaser. ????

      • Charli Mills

        Liz, are there cloud berries in the lower 48? I think of them as salmon berries in Alaska. Never had one!

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        I dunno…I’m in MN. My Cloudberry memories come from visits from my parents’ homeland Norway.

    • Charli Mills

      A good combination, so it seems!

    • Kate

      Your story reminded me that in Newfoundland, Canada, the rare cloudberry, or as they call bakeapple is cherished among the province’s wild berry bounty. Probably because there aren’t too many who want to wander into mosquito infested marshes to pick them. I googled the bakedapple name and according to a 1958 cookbook, The Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes, one early French explorer asked “what is this berry called?” – ” baie qu’appelle?” – and the name, phonetically rendered, stuck.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        That is a wonderful bit of history regarding the name. The mosquitos probably are very off putting. Newfoundland is probably quite similar to the northern parts of Scandinavia. One day I will visit.

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you made it to the berries and music, Joe!

  15. Kate

    The song that popped into my mind about Berries and Music was Blueberry Hill … “I found my thrill, on Blueberry Hill, on Blueberry Hill, when I found you. The moon stood still…” . And I haven’t been able to get the tune out of my mind since then. And being a HUGE blueberry fan, I also had to go out and get another big basket of them. I have a feeling the basket will be empty by the time I get around around to making any jam. Gladys and Jim returned this week and have gotten themselves into some well intentioned meddling.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see Gladys and Jim return! I think our blueberry jam will be frozen berries for morning smoothies instead. The ones set aside have mostly disappeared!

  16. jeanne229

    No accompanying post to lend insight into this flash. Let’s just say there is always mortality, memory, and berries….and with some of us, a habit of forgetting to turn the burner off….

    The Mulberry Tree

    This is how my little story ends.

    A cup of tea in an easy chair. A slide into memory as a corona of flame licks at a burner on the stove.

    The mulberry tree in the scruffy yard on East Las Palmaritas Street. A tinny song from the radio wafting through a window. “I want to hold your haaand…”

    I balance under the canopy. Lift one foot and reach, reach, reach for the purple bounty. And slip.

    The ground rushes up. The last thing I feel is my small chest expelling its wind.

    And I go up in smoke.

    • Charli Mills

      How is it that in reaching or resting we can unexpectedly lose our breath? I love how you weave the memory into the piece. And I hope the lick of flame stayed a lick. I had tea at someone’s house on Sunday and noticed the obvious flame-licked overhead fan. My host admitted to burning several tea kettles!

      • Norah

        Oh, that sounds dangerous!

    • Norah

      Oh no! Not in smoke! I was thinking about your choice of a Beatles’ song when you were picking mulberries. I was thinking of one too – Oblidi Oblada.

  17. A. E. Robson

    Late to the gate on this one. Thought it through, changed it around, and finally decided I just wanted to share a recipe with you. You’ll find it if you follow the link.

    Berry Syrup
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    It’s the season of harvesting produce and picking berries to create all kinds of goodness to enjoy over the long winter months.

    What you make with your berries is as versatile as the various types of fruit you have available. Every year produces different quantities and selections. Wild berries seem to have the best flavour; but they take the most amount of time when it comes to picking and cleaning. A local farmer’s market is a good source for your choice of berries.

    Choose your fruit, turn on your favourite music and make some of our yummy Berry Syrup.

    • Charli Mills

      You made it all the sweeter with a recipe, Ann!

  18. Kerry E.B. Black

    I couldn’t help myself. This also came from your musical berries, Charli.

    Price of Silence
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    I asked her to stop singing, but she wouldn’t. Studying grew impossible while my sweater-stealing dorm-mate belted out pop tunes, hummed arias, or whistled nursery songs. No amount of begging inspired her silence.
    As a botany student, I knew what must be done. I gathered berries and made the drink, a fragrant tea. Tea soothes the throat of a singer, and the serendipity of it pleased me. She studied philosophy. I provided a way for her to experience a closeness with her idol, Socrates.
    She downed her drink without suspicion. The hemlock reacted, and at last she stopped singing.

    • jeanne229

      Love it! Philosophy is more useful that many might think!

    • Charli Mills

      You are on a roll this week! I can understand the need for a botany introvert to silence the singer!

    • Norah

      That solution was a bit drastic!

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Indeed, in something of a Poe – like fashion I suppose. Haha!

      • Norah

        Very true! He’s one of my favourites.

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Cuz seriously…some people will just not take a hint!

  19. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Oh my God! Perfidy and deceit under the berry bushes! 😮

  20. Charli Mills

    A dark tune among the forest critters.


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