The Saga of the gooseberry

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Add comments

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Fasten your seat belt. We will be traveling fast here through time and distance. Flash back about 200 years.

“I don’t like this Mum,”

“It’s the popular new berry. You’re fortunate I found some at the market.”

“It’s sour.”

“Now, now don’t be disrespectful to your mother.”

“I don’t like it either Papa. It’s not sweet.”

“Sweet? What, have we become a household of Frenchmen. Everything has to be sweet and sticky. This is stiff food suitable for sturdy English like us.”

“What is it?”

“It’s called gooseberry.”

“I’m sure it’s tasty… if you’re a goose.”

“I’m hearing ‘It’s not this. It’s not that.’ I’ll tell you one thing it’s not. It’s not “nothing”, and that’s what you’ll be having for supper if you don’t like what I’ve prepared.”

Meanwhile half a world a way in the mountains of the American North West the beautiful pines whisper and moan into the wind, “Tell them to listen to the children. The children are wiser than they. Listen to the children. Listen, Listen.”

A few decades later and about two and a half thousand miles east, “Never seen anything like it this strange fascination the English have developed for a silly berry bush. Garden clubs, “biggest berry” contests, twenty five hundred varieties they’ve developed. Now the things are catching on here.”

“I wouldn’t be concerned. We’re meat and potatoes folks not the tea and crumpet group.”

But still the beautiful trees whispered uneasily to the wind, “Beware.”

“I hope the president will be pleased Mrs. Adams. I made his favorite desert, Gooseberry Fool.”

“I’m sure John will be pleased.”

“Please tell President Buchanan we’re having his favorite desert tonight, Gooseberry Tart.”

“He’ll enjoy it I’m sure.”

“Mrs. Lincoln, the president carries such a heavy load. I hope to lighten it a little with his favorite desert tonight, Gooseberry pie.”

Flash forward a few decades, “I’m somewhat perplexed, and even embarrassed that in this modern forward looking country of America the 1900’s may go down in history as the century of the gooseberry, and imported from stodgy old England of all places.”

“There, there dear, enjoy your breakfast. I’m sure we have greater concerns than old fashioned English garden produce.”

But the beautiful trees shuddered. “Death rides upon the waters and through the air.”

About fifty years later, two amateur forgers work stealthily on an official document. “How does that look?”

“Needs more Clorox I can still read the numbers.”

“All right but the paper is getting soggy and the background is bleaching white. It will be all wrinkled when it dries”

“We’ll iron it flat, and use a yellow crayon on it.”

“Right.”

A few weeks later a solitary figure works his way back and forth down a steep mountain side. His eyes are focused on the ground. His mind is often not. The scenes of his long drive to the beautiful Northwest forests, the new and different people, including the Golden Glove heavyweight champion of Oklahoma, the football player from the University of Texas, the Korean War veteran, the foreman who could out hike them all and still stop for another cigarette on the trail while they caught up; these and other scenes crowd out the business at hand..

The young man dragging the ropes tries semi frequently to remember the job training orientation. He thinks again of the examples of leaves and bushes as the camp boss explained, “Blister Rust disease kills thousands of white pine trees every year. It can float through the air for miles infecting trees as it goes.  We can’t control that.

“But the disease has a chink in its armor. In its life cycle it must go through a ribe bush. If we eliminate all ribes, we break the circle and stop the disease. But we have to get every ribe. Even one missed can infect miles of white pine.

“So we mark off the mountainside with strings. Your job is to work back and forth between the strings dragging your guide ropes and examining every square foot of the ground. You must find every ribe and eradicate it. This is the enemy. You are the soldiers to search and destroy. Any questions?”

The solitary figure dragging his guide ropes might have answered but didn’t, “Yes. How do you keep your mind from wandering?”

“You’ll develop a ribe eye,” his brother had encouraged him. But so far no ribes had sprouted in his eye. Meanwhile his mind was spending too much energy on last night’s singing his new found love for country music with the boys from the south. His attention wandered to the cloth bag of squashed sandwiches, and the canteen hanging from his belt. He thought of jokes, songs, basketball, his girl back home, and the dark imaginary scene of armed federal agents throwing back his tent flap and declaring, “We checked your forged birth certificate. You’re not really 16. Come with us.”

“Hiatt, you find any ribes yet?” The words jolted him back. The straw boss appeared out of the underbrush.

“No ribes here boss.” His voice was more confident than his mind.

“Keep looking.” The boss disappeared up the mountain to check the area that had just been searched. A few moments later the young man heard the thunder of the executioner. “HIATT!!! GET UP HERE!!!

There stood the boss in a field of ribes more commonly known as gooseberries. The beautiful trees whispered and moaned in the wind, “We tried to tell him, but he wasn’t listening.”

Don’t look for my name in the Ribe Hunters Hall of Fame.

I eventually developed a modestly effective ribe eye. They even hired me again the next summer, however without the customary salary raise for second year workers. I enjoyed the life in the woods, but it was pretty obvious this would not be a good career path to follow. I should take my wandering, perhaps creative mind where it could do me some good.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: Kaniksu

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web pageduanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Fasten your seat belt. We will be traveling fast here through time and distance. Flash back about 200 years.

“I don’t like this Mum,”

“It’s the popular new berry. You’re fortunate I found some at the market.”

“It’s sour.”

“Now, now don’t be disrespectful to your mother.”

“I don’t like it either Papa. It’s not sweet.”

“Sweet? What, have we become a household of Frenchmen. Everything has to be sweet and sticky. This is stiff food suitable for sturdy English like us.”

“What is it?”

“It’s called gooseberry.”

“I’m sure it’s tasty… if you’re a goose.”

“I’m hearing ‘It’s not this. It’s not that.’ I’ll tell you one thing it’s not. It’s not “nothing”, and that’s what you’ll be having for supper if you don’t like what I’ve prepared.”

Meanwhile half a world a way in the mountains of the American North West the beautiful pines whisper and moan into the wind, “Tell them to listen to the children. The children are wiser than they. Listen to the children. Listen, Listen.”

A few decades later and about two and a half thousand miles east, “Never seen anything like it this strange fascination the English have developed for a silly berry bush. Garden clubs, “biggest berry” contests, twenty five hundred varieties they’ve developed. Now the things are catching on here.”

“I wouldn’t be concerned. We’re meat and potatoes folks not the tea and crumpet group.”

But still the beautiful trees whispered uneasily to the wind, “Beware.”

“I hope the president will be pleased Mrs. Adams. I made his favorite desert, Gooseberry Fool.”

“I’m sure John will be pleased.”

“Please tell President Buchanan we’re having his favorite desert tonight, Gooseberry Tart.”

“He’ll enjoy it I’m sure.”

“Mrs. Lincoln, the president carries such a heavy load. I hope to lighten it a little with his favorite desert tonight, Gooseberry pie.”

Flash forward a few decades, “I’m somewhat perplexed, and even embarrassed that in this modern forward looking country of America the 1900’s may go down in history as the century of the gooseberry, and imported from stodgy old England of all places.”

“There, there dear, enjoy your breakfast. I’m sure we have greater concerns than old fashioned English garden produce.”

But the beautiful trees shuddered. “Death rides upon the waters and through the air.”

About fifty years later, two amateur forgers work stealthily on an official document. “How does that look?”

“Needs more Clorox I can still read the numbers.”

“All right but the paper is getting soggy and the background is bleaching white. It will be all wrinkled when it dries”

“We’ll iron it flat, and use a yellow crayon on it.”

“Right.”

A few weeks later a solitary figure works his way back and forth down a steep mountain side. His eyes are focused on the ground. His mind is often not. The scenes of his long drive to the beautiful Northwest forests, the new and different people, including the Golden Glove heavyweight champion of Oklahoma, the football player from the University of Texas, the Korean War veteran, the foreman who could out hike them all and still stop for another cigarette on the trail while they caught up; these and other scenes crowd out the business at hand..

The young man dragging the ropes tries semi frequently to remember the job training orientation. He thinks again of the examples of leaves and bushes as the camp boss explained, “Blister Rust disease kills thousands of white pine trees every year. It can float through the air for miles infecting trees as it goes.  We can’t control that.

“But the disease has a chink in its armor. In its life cycle it must go through a ribe bush. If we eliminate all ribes, we break the circle and stop the disease. But we have to get every ribe. Even one missed can infect miles of white pine.

“So we mark off the mountainside with strings. Your job is to work back and forth between the strings dragging your guide ropes and examining every square foot of the ground. You must find every ribe and eradicate it. This is the enemy. You are the soldiers to search and destroy. Any questions?”

The solitary figure dragging his guide ropes might have answered but didn’t, “Yes. How do you keep your mind from wandering?”

“You’ll develop a ribe eye,” his brother had encouraged him. But so far no ribes had sprouted in his eye. Meanwhile his mind was spending too much energy on last night’s singing his new found love for country music with the boys from the south. His attention wandered to the cloth bag of squashed sandwiches, and the canteen hanging from his belt. He thought of jokes, songs, basketball, his girl back home, and the dark imaginary scene of armed federal agents throwing back his tent flap and declaring, “We checked your forged birth certificate. You’re not really 16. Come with us.”

“Hiatt, you find any ribes yet?” The words jolted him back. The straw boss appeared out of the underbrush.

“No ribes here boss.” His voice was more confident than his mind.

“Keep looking.” The boss disappeared up the mountain to check the area that had just been searched. A few moments later the young man heard the thunder of the executioner. “HIATT!!! GET UP HERE!!!

There stood the boss in a field of ribes more commonly known as gooseberries. The beautiful trees whispered and moaned in the wind, “We tried to tell him, but he wasn’t listening.”

Don’t look for my name in the Ribe Hunters Hall of Fame.

I eventually developed a modestly effective ribe eye. They even hired me again the next summer, however without the customary salary raise for second year workers. I enjoyed the life in the woods, but it was pretty obvious this would not be a good career path to follow. I should take my wandering, perhaps creative mind where it could do me some good.

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: Kaniksu

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