The blueberry patch


Dear Mary,

WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BOY growing up in Esto, there was a blueberry patch down the hill and across the highway that ran in front of our house. It was on land owned by U.T. Kirkland. Those initials were all the name he had, but he was a kind-hearted, hard-working farmer whose wife Delma — I called her Big Mama — kept me in the years before I started school. (She also taught me some of my most important early lessons. When I turned 5 and got one of those sit-down blackboards, I sat right down and wrote my first word: S-H-I-T. She wouldn’t say it, but she frequently spelled it, and apparently I had been paying attention.)

T and Big Mama were all-important to me. My mother left early every morning to drive across the Alabama line to work in the Van Heusen shirt factory in Hartford, and my father died young just as I turned 4. I loved T and Big Mama. And blueberries always bring them back to me.

Thank you for that perfect blueberry flip you shared last night — and for the memories that came with it.


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