I woke to the sound of the front door closing, my mother leaving for her only moment of peace … to fish in the early morning mist. My father was rattling in the kitchen. I rose quietly, not wanting to wake my brothers, crept down the stairs, and curled up in the corner of the couch, my night gown wrapped around my feet to fight the morning chill. My father handed me a cup of black coffee. I held it under my chin and let the steam warm my face while I listened to the comforting sounds of breakfast in the works; the eggs cracking, the refrigerator door opening and closing, and the spoon scraping against the big red and white enamel bowl. When he finished his prep and closed the oven door for the final time, he handed me a big plastic tumbler and sent me down to the lake to pick blueberries.
The lake was warmer than the cool morning air and a thick mist had formed. I did not see my mother and her rowboat, but I knew she was there. I heard the rhythmic squeak of her oars as she trolled for bass in the warm shallow waters along the opposite edge of the lake.
I watched a spider crawl along the damp leaves of the blueberry bush and curl into a ball when it hit a big water drop. Holding the branch and cup in one hand, I knocked the blueberries off their stems and heard them drop into the cup. I ate a few as I picked. It was the middle of July and they were just starting to ripen. Still tart, they would sweeten each day so that by early August they would be perfect. This time of year, the blueberries became a fifth food group. Blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberries in fruit bowl, blueberry pie, even blueberry sauce for ice-cream.
As I finished picking, my mother and her boat appeared from the mist. I helped pull the boat up on shore and headed back to the cabin before she could lift her catch from the water. I hated to see the fish hanging, gills agape strung on the line that she dragged behind the boat.
The morning quiet faded to chaos as my five brothers descended from the attic above. They warmed the chill from the room. Each maneuvered the tiny kitchen to get a cup of coffee. The first pot emptied and another started … which would soon be followed by another.