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I thought it time to reintroduce my recently repatriated college daughter to the fun of pick your own blueberries. To me, it’s a time of quiet reflection while fingers sift for the perfect, plump berry. The reward? Fresh air, a sun-kissed glow on the skin, the promise of cobbler, and maybe a bug bite or two. Assigned our row of bushes, I like to plunge deep in brush where many fear treading. It’s where the best berries are among the sound insulation of thick leaves. Then I hear it, making their way down the patch. Gossipers.

What is it with the great outdoors that compels people to exercise their vocal chords in endless chatter? I get enough of it at home. When I’m out hiking woods or in the picking fields of America, I want to hear the wind whisper, leaves shake, and birds flitting about, not a gaggle of gossipmongers discussing the merits of someone’s gall bladder operation.

Today’s delightful tittle-tattle started with a lesson about a spouse with health issues and was in denial of it all. It moved to a riveting account of one’s virginal experience with a weed-wacker. Wait a minute, I hear voices converging from the opposite direction. Someone is very unhappy with their ophthalmologist, so much so, they refuse to wear the glasses prescribed. Just what I need. A sight challenged berry picker about to invade my space. Earbuds tied to an IPod, my daughter is oblivious to it all.

A throaty thrum and release of air brakes send hairs up on the back of my neck. A school bus pulls off the road and discharges its load of squealing mini-humans with buckets. Soon, the air is abuzz with the natter of nonsense. I got more than you do … He stole my berries … There’s a bee …I’m thirsty … I gotta go potty. Squawking crows are quieter. The gossip clan is way better.

I move away from the pack and pick faster, no longer as selective on the quality of berries I toss in the bucket, then realize I’m trapped, penned in by chatty biddies, complaining that the quality of funnel cake isn’t what it used to be. Sirens of the patch, their voices drawing me into their world, tempting me to consider the question, is it the oil used to fry the cakes?

I’m saved by my daughter’s smile and the reach of her hand to pull me from the branches. She looks as if she’d stepped from a glamour magazine. I’m a sweaty mess on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Next time, I’m bringing my IPod.