June 16th, 2009

The Gooseberry Family

You might not know this family, but Mrs. Gooseberry can cook. Mr. Gooseberry builds fabulous birdhouses and bonfires. The boy tells grand stories. All three living among flame colored birds and a stream in back, brisk and swollen with fish. In spring mushrooms hide in their woods, shooting from warmed soil like fleshy bullets.

When seized by morning sunlight, the Gooseberry family rises to the tinkle tinkle of creek noise floating in through screened windows. All are open. Every one.  Mrs. Gooseberry eats her eggs, then rolls Swedish meatballs for dinner. She stuffs them in the crock- pot, the smell eventually simmering in every nook and cranny.  Nightfall finds the family sitting among stars and fire and tree frogs. A breeze blows. They are  like eggs in a nest of land.

To find the Goosberry’s one would twist and turn down dirt roads, past fragrant honeysuckle, draping like spotty lemon-colored quilts above the road. Keep going past trees exploding with tiny orange persimmons, a fat hornets nest buzzing up one. Then cross a wooden bridge that goes click clack, click clack.  A stand of cedar next, big, small and medium. Tucked beside green, their tiny cabin, glass panes gleaming  like sunlit diamonds.

They do not own a TV, not and never have. Books and music are consumed daily. Woods are walked. Gardens tended. They have watched blossoms transform to apples, and bees disappear into flower cups; life up close and personal.

In summer the boy roams the woods, plucking blackberries and gooseberries. When he returns, bucket brimming, mother will make green gooseberry pie.

She would never tell someone new to gooseberries how tart they are, though. But she will watch you take that first sweet/tart bite and grin when you pucker like crazy. Yet she knows you will finish every last bite, curiously satisfied.

Mrs. Gooseberry likes this.

On sunny days, when work is done, Mr. Gooseberry hits plastic golf balls in back, which sometimes plop in the creek, floating downstream like bloated white fish. Other times he inadvertently aims at Mrs. Gooseberry, sitting quietly reading her book.  She’s been popped on the noggin enough with golf balls to automatically flinch when he whacks them, yet still comes outside.

“EXCUSE ME!” she will shout when he accidentally hits her. And if she feels it’s intentional, she pulls out her wide vocabulary and uses it. Mr. Gooseberry then kisses her on the forehead, an easy apology.

Those wacky Gooseberry’s can be found down a country road.

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Eleven-year-old Marnie Evans longs to be precious. She wishes on stars for parents who adore her, even though her family is dysfunctional. She also believes that jack rabbits and a boot-wearing Texas angel show her mysterious signs of things to come. Continue Reading

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