I was half raised in the Santa Cruz mountains (pre-meth), playing in dirt, slipping on rock slime in Boulder Creek, and eating deadly nightshade and banana slugs (not at the same time).
So I may be a city girl, but I always felt like I had some country running through my bones. Never more-so than today when, fresh after a summer shower soaked my little piece of land, I went out and cut some squash for dinner. Then I walked around to the side yard, armed with gauntlets and shears, to pick some of the blackberries dripping on the vines.
Thanks to the neighbors, the smell of dog shit was almost overpowering, but I soldiered on, because I’m tough like that. I filled a bowl with plump, dark fruit, brought ’em in, gave ’em a quick rinse in the sink, and then sat down with my girls to enjoy a wholesome treat. Who needs cookies and candy, I thought, when nature gives us such wild bounty? My heart swelled with pride.
Then I almost bit into a beetle.
Seriously. It was an inch from my mouth.
Then Madz found a tiny, yellow spider – now running free somewhere in my house because I wasn’t fast enough.
But I was gonna be cool about it. I am nature mom, hear me roar.
Then, while I sat, recovering from these unexpected encounters, the moist berries began shedding the rest of their inhabitants. Tiny, translucent grubs of unknown genus, mostly.
I ran to the kitchen with the bowl, the Madness screaming at me not to take her berries away. I stopped, still gagging. I washed them three more times, then spread them out on a plate to inspect.
Grubs are the new sustainable protein, right? The meat of the future?
I handed the berries to the girls and excused myself to go throw up.
And I can’t help but feel like this chick is laughing at me the whole time.