Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Gooseberry Family

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 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.


  1. Nicely sets the scene, Dorraine. It also brings back memories from my own childhood.

    Our neighbors had a gooseberry bush. One time I picked enough to make a pie and asked my mom to make one. She agreed, grudgingly (thinking it would taste terrible), and got out her cookbook.

    When she saw how much sugar it called for she about died. Being a Great Depression baby, she thought using that much sugar would be downright sinful. So she cut the sugar in half.

    She was right. It was terrible.

  2. Thanks, Jon! Yes, one must not skimp on sugar when making gooseberry pie!

    We also had gooseberry bushes, but I've never been fond of the green pie, although some people really love it. Just thought of gooseberries the other day, and this little story came. I don't know how many people have ever seen a gooseberry, let alone tasted one.

  3. I don't think anyone I know writes nature like you write it, Dorraine. Now I'm drooling for gooseberry pie even though I've never had it before.


  4. Thank you, Jai. So sweet of you to say. Nature is what I most enjoy writing about.

    Regarding gooseberry pie: If you could find some gooseberries, I'd make you one myself!