It was a perfect summer's day when we met our friends at the blueberry festival. The eight of us took a charming hayride out to the field. The bushes were brimming with fat, juicy, sweet organic berries. There was a feeling of abundance. We picked as much as we wanted, then rode back to the farmhouse to grab some lunch - smoky barbecue, delicious blueberry scones, home made chocolate cupcakes. My nine-year-old son entered the pie-eating contest while we all watched, laughing. After he cleaned up, he drew a still life with colored pencils and entered it in the art contest. He won.
Meanwhile, all was not as it appeared. Bad Betsy had taken up residence within me and was whispering things like:
Why is that woman near our bush? There won't be enough room for everyone on the hayride back. What will we do if we're left behind in this sweltering heat? What if our pals don't make - "Hey you guys, hurry up." Where's that tractor, anyway, it's been much longer than five minutes. And, finally: I don't even like blueberries.
Then, as we were about to get onto the tractor for the ride back (as we did, indeed, all make it on board), I thought of something to be grateful for. As the crowd collectively muttered about the lack of seating on the tractor, I said to the woman in front of me in line, "At least we don't have to worry about ticks."
"Well," she said, and my eyes grew wide in disbelief. It was a tone of voice I recognized, having used it thousands of times with my kids. It's the "well" of disappointment, of disagreement, of the last word. The ominous "well."
"Actually, there are ticks around here. In fact,” she added casually, “the farmer's wife has Lyme disease."
"You're kidding, right?" I asked, shocked. "You're not kidding?" Bad Betsy was practically laughing out loud.
Suddenly I felt itchy. I thought about how lucky we were to have made it onto the hayride out of this hellhole, and how glad I was that we were done picking blueberries. Probably forever.