A Day in the Woods, Huckleberries and a Painful Body


Picking berries has always been a favorite adventure of mine. Living many years in Oregon, wild blackberries grow everywhere and the kids and I were always out picking…and I am an aggressive picker. No thorns ever get in my way. Over the years, my kid’s have joked that it is not a good picking day unless mom is bleeding. And, this is true. I will jump into the center of a blackberry bush just to get all the berries and come out with scratches and cuts from the thorns.

Of course, having chronic pain and often mobility issues, my picking has slowed down a bit. But, I am stubborn and still tend to think I am superwoman and can do anything….only to pay for it later. How many of you out there are the same?

This last week was no different. We now live in Eastern Washington, so berries aren’t quite as easy to come by. However, we had the opportunity to go up into the mountains and go huckleberry picking, so, of course, I was in. Despite the fact the day before I was experiencing severe pain and fatigue, I put forth the plan to go.

huckleberries, picking huckleberries

The haul after a day in the mountains picking huckleberries

We got up early in the morning and headed east to the mountains. After an unexpected flat tire and repair, we were off to berry pick. Now, picking huckleberries is different from blackberries. There are no tall bushes to pick from (at least not this year. A lack of rain has kept the plants small). You have to wander the mountainside looking for small bushes close to the ground and grab your berries.

So needless to say, the stress on my back and legs was rough. But, as usual, I pushed through (over the years, I have learned that I can push and push when I need to, but once I relax, the pain hits me like a freight train). This trip was no different. After collecting close to a gallon of huckleberries between us, we headed home. Once in the car, the pain hit and only got worse as we drove. Once we got home and unpacked, a pain pill and muscle relaxant were on the menu, as was rest. Cooking with the huckleberries would have to wait.

Many people ask me why I do such crazy things when I know I am only going to end up in pain? The answer for me is simple. I do it because, while pain and mobility issues are a problem for me, I still want to live my life. I still want to have experiences with my children and go on adventures.

This was not always the case. The first year after all this started, it took all I had to get the kids to school and back. I spent many days asking, “Why me?” I didn’t feel like I had the energy to do anything and spent most of my days on the couch because getting up and moving hurt too much. And, while I still have days like that, over the years I have learned how my body works and how to work around it. For me, my symptoms always get worse in the evenings and end of the day, regardless of what I do. So, I have learned that if I want to do something, I go out and push and do it. This doesn’t always work…some days I just don’t have that push in me, but I fight as much as I can….for me and for my kids.

I have always been a strong woman, a fighter. I have lived with chronic pain since I was 22 and first experienced issues with my back. I am now 44 I have had many years to get used to pain and probably tolerate more than most. Heck, I don’t know what a day without pain would feel like. I was also raised that if you don’t think about it, it will go away (oh how I wish that were true). But, being raised that way always made me push through the pain.

And on this day, I pushed through the pain to find my berries and enjoy a day out in the mountains with friends and family. And who would want to miss out on this view?

Eastern washington mountains, huckleberry picking

In this way, right now, I am lucky that I can push through. I do know that this may not always be the case and that is why I take advantage of every adventure I can right now. Not all days are good, but this day was fantastic!

Stay tuned for some amazing recipes with huckleberries…provided I don’t eat them all first.


One thought on “A Day in the Woods, Huckleberries and a Painful Body

  1. Nicole

    I am the same exact way. I spent my earlier days “keeping up with the boys” which always ended me up in awesome places and doing awesome things. Now, knowing that I would miss out on that stuff kills me. So, I do it anyway and I suffer a lot for it. One of my biggest complaints now it that I get so tired and grumpy doing those things, that I end up enjoying the journey a lot less. I end up in the back of the line, barely managing to keep up. I’m a competitive person, so being behind never helps my disposition!


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