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Coming Home: Braving the wild in the name of juneberry pie

Last week I went on a walk to close some gates in our home pasture and check a couple juneberry patches.

Juneberries are a special treat around here. Like wild mini-blueberries, if they show up, they show up around this time to much fanfare for those of us who know people who make pies.

Juneberries make the best pies in the world, probably because getting to them before the frost kills them or the birds eat them up is so rare, and the entire task of picking them sends you to the most mosquito- and tick-infested, hot, thorny, itchiest places in the free world, so finally making and tasting a juneberry pie is like completing some prairie, culinary, ironman marathon.

Only better and more gratifying because, well, pie.

Anyway, my little stroll before sunset was only mildly successful. The gates on this place were made only to be shut by Thor himself. Or the Hulk. Or some hybrid of a bear-man. By the time I grunted and groaned, used my entire body weight trying to push the two posts together to maybe, possibly, for the love of Dolly Parton, stretch the three wires tight enough to get the little wire loop over the top of the scrawny post, I was sweating, cussing, bleeding and wondering how I missed the yeti that we apparently hired to fix the gates on this place.

I called my husband (who was inside the house with the baby, like 50 yards away) on my cellphone and told him there’s no way on this earth I’m ever getting that dang gate shut and that shutting the gates was his job from now on who the heck do you think I am what the heck is this all about who in their right mind makes gates that tight good gawd sweet mercy Martha Stewart.

And, if you’re wondering, the gate on the other side of that pasture went about the same way.

Anyway, on my way I did locate a big ol’ juneberry patch. But the best berries, of course, were hanging out about 15 feet above my head at the very tops of the bushes. And to get to them I had to wade through thorny bushes up to my armpits. But some of those thorny bushes had raspberries growing on them, so that was a win.

I proceeded to eat every ripe red berry I could find.

Even the one with the worm on it, which I discovered after I put it in my mouth and crunched.

So that was a loss.

But the next day I went up to the fields with Edie and found the perfect bush, called my neighbor friend and her kids and backed the pickup up to that bush, put Edie in her front pack, and we picked berries like it was our job, to heck with the heat and the tall weeds and the biting flies, just, for the love of dessert, don’t you dare spill the bucket. So we got our pie supply after all.

Because I was determined, I couldn’t be deterred. Even when I got home from my gate-closing calamity and discovered that apparently wading up to my armpits in thorny brush to pick raspberries was not only a good way to accidentally eat a worm, but, even better, it’s a great way to acquire 500 wood ticks.

I came home and picked off a good 15 or so, stripped down to my undies, checked myself out in the mirror, sat down on the chair and proceeded to pick off at least five more.

When I crawled into bed that night, I wondered out loud to my husband what time of night I would wake up to a tick crawling across my face. He made a guess. I made a guess.

But we were both wrong.

At about 12:30 or so, just as I had drifted into a really nice slumber, I was indeed awoken by a tick … but it wasn’t crawling across my face.


It was making a beeline for my butt crack.

Thank good gawd sweet mercy Martha Stewart, I cut him off at the pass.

Oh the things we endure in the name of dessert.

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at Readers can reach her at