Berry Picking

By Joyce Maynard, "Berry Picking," July/August 2011

Author Joyce Maynard's essay on picking berries with her daughter.

My daughter was 11 when the divorce happened, and we moved from the farm in the country where she was born to a house in a town 30 miles away. We were still within range of Pitcher Mountain, but there came a point in our life together—the teenage years—when she and I were too much at odds to think of spending an afternoon on a hilltop together, dropping berries into our milk jugs. Maybe she worried I’d take the opportunity of having her alone to raise the topic of smoking pot, or ask about her boyfriend, or her plans for life. I am humbled to admit that, for a time there, I might even have taken advantage of our time alone to launch into some criticism of her father. If there is such a thing as a good divorce, ours wasn’t one of those.

More time passed. Summers found my daughter working and hanging out with friends in her free time. Then I moved to California, while she remained in New Hampshire, living in the little cabin out behind the house I’d shared with her dad all those years—working as a counselor with troubled kids, teaching yoga, following a diet of locally grown food.

Season after season when blueberries came ripe and I was 3,000 miles away, I had to make do with frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joe’s. Audrey had found other picking companions.

Next: Another Day on Pitcher Mountain »

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