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Gup, Raspberries and Broken Ankles























            “Gup?” We never got raspberry picking. If you’re not too busy, do you think we could go today?” Lori stood in front of her grandfather, with a pleading expression on her face.

            Frank gazed at her from porch he was fixing. Their last berry hunting excursion had abruptly ended before it had even began.  He and his two grandchildren had ended up marooned on shore because of an unfortunate meeting of their outboard bottom with the top of a reef, and Frank had had to walk home to borrow a lift back to camp.


            “Well now, I can always eek out some time you honey. And I wouldn’t mind some raspberry shortcake!”

            “Oh Gup! Nana makes the best berry cake! I’ll ask Phil to come too. The more berries the better!” The little girl ran off to find her brother, while Frank laid down his hammer, stiffly rose to his feet, and headed off to get ready for their afternoon excursion.

             Frank had no intention to return to his spot of shame, but he did have another berry picking place in mind. He had passed it a few days before when motoring through a narrow channel on his way to South Lake. A skinny sandbar, entirely edged in raspberry bushes, ran along the sunny southern shore. The bushes were heavy with the ripened ruby fruit, just begging to be picked. He had wanted to stop and pick some then, but the two guests in his boat were angling for pike, not berries.

             The threesome soon set off, Phil at the helm. It was an exquisite day, warm with a light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. The boat blazed through the water, leaving a trail of foam in the otherwise still blue water. After a ten minute ride, the sandbar came into view. As they approached the spot, Lori could see the jagged edges of the reef suspended just under the water. Frank ordered Phil to slow right down, and they carefully cruised past.  Beyond was the beach, studded with hundreds of raspberry bushes. Hanging heavy with fruit, they simply beckoned them to come ashore. They found a place to land, grabbed their pails and started out.


           “Now Lori you stay on the beach where I can see you," said Frank. “Phil, you can wander up a bit further into that nice thicket full of berries there. I’m going to head up to the ridge above and scout the area for more good picking areas.”


           Lori skipped along the beach, happy as a clam. Picking was easy, the long sandy dunes were clear of debris and made walking easy. And there were so many berries!!!  Nana was going to be able to make a dozen pies! Most were just perfectly ripe, dripping with juice. For every one Lori tossed in her bowl, several more were popped into her mouth.  Mesmerized by the amount of berries, Lori did not notice the little red ants crawling on her runners, at least not at first. When she did, she was nonplussed, she simply took one foot and scratched them off of the other. As she continued down the beach however, more and more ants appeared, crawling up under the cuff of her pants and onto her legs. 


            Irritated, she rubbed her legs with her free hand. Tiny red speckles still covered her shoes. There seemed to be a never ending stream of them. Had she stepped in an anthill? She scampered a few yards down the shore, and started to pick berries again.  Tickle. Tickle. Tickle. Lori looked down. More ants scuttled over her shoes and up her legs.  What was going on? She had never seen so many ants in one place before. Surely she couldn’t have stepped in another anthill? She scanned the shoreline. The entire beach was moving. She hadn’t stepped in an another anthill, it was the same anthill . . . the entire beach was one GIGANTIC anthill, a minefield exploding with ants. For as far as the eye could see, there were ants, legions of them, marching, marching, seemingly all towards her. She dropped her bowl of berries and ran.


            “Gup! Gup!”


            Lori bolted towards the boat, swatting at the miniscule soldiers as she ran. “Gup! The ants are biting me!”        


            At the sound of his sister’s panicked voice, Phil rushed to make a quick retreat back down to the beach, stumbling over downed tree branches, and roots, losing a great many of his berries in the process.


            “Careful Phil!” called Frank from just above him, trying to make his way quickly down the escarpment. “She’ll by fine, I’m coming down. We don’t need you falling and hurting yourself.”  Just as the words were out of his mouth, his foot landed in a hole, and Frank went crashing down.


            By this time Lori had made it to the boat. She sat in her seat, frantically swatting the last of the ants. Phil had made it down the hill, and now shielded his eyes and scanned for Frank. “Gup?”


            “Here,” came a muffled voice. “Phil, I think I’m gonna need your help getting down the hill.”


            For the second time that year, Al had to fly a Reid brother into Red Lake for medical attention. After a visit to the hospital, Frank was on his way back to camp, with a cast on his broken ankle.


            “I hope you rest longer then Uncle Pete did. He went back to work the day after he burnt himself. I hope you have more sense.” Al said, as he helped his dad off the plane back at camp.


            “Oh don’t worry, I won’t be working tomorrow. Gotta carve myself a decent crutch.”


            “You have the one they gave you at the hospital.”


             “I’m not using that thing. It’s useless.”


              And in true Reid fashion, Frank created his own custom crutch, and a day later was building a countertop for the new store. Sadly, there were STILL no raspberry pies.

Uncle Pete & his brother, Frank Reid

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