Cuttings

Birds and Boysenberries

ILLUSTRATION BY LINDA COOK DEVONA

The garden of my childhood was a wonderful place. The caretaker of this magical playground was my father. He spent hours tending the flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees.

One of Dad’s prized crops was his boysenberry vines—carefully tended, pruned, and trained onto homemade fences. (The jams Mother made from them was one of our family’s unique Christmas presents.)

His boysenberry nemesis was birds—mostly jays and mockingbirds who agreed that these were very good berries, indeed. I remember the frustration in Dad’s voice when he yelled at them. He even shot over their heads with a rifle to scare them away. (This was the 1950s. You probably couldn’t do that today.)

Many years passed. Dad began getting weaker. He still spent a great deal of time in his garden, but more and more, he just sat in the sun and enjoyed the place he had created.

One morning when I was home from college, doing my laundry, I saw Dad through a window sitting in his garden. I was sad to see him so frail, but what brought a smile to my face and forever etched the moment in my memory was what he was doing.

Dad was putting peanuts close by so the birds would come up to get them.

—By Marvella Peterman of Pacific Grove, CA.


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