The plan was for a quick walk through the woods on gravel paths. I wore my city coat and good wool cap. We ended up in a swamp of misery. Aki had no problem negotiating the moss-covered ground. She slipped under the tangle of bare blue berry brush and tilting, moss covered alders. I pushed through it, feeling moisture seep into my boots as I cursed my way through the mess. I should have cursed the duck hunter hunkered down on the beach across the easy path to the car. I might as well have cursed the wind for covering another part of the trail with windfalls or the coyote that left the tracks I followed into the swamp.
Pulling aside a stout limb I saw a blue berry, round and alone on the leafless bush except for a clinging raindrop. Should I eat the rain washed berry or leave it for wild things? I moved on, fingers innocent of berry juice. We made it out of the swamp. Moss and mud clung to my jacket and rain pants. Aki fine gray hair was moist but clean. She smelled like the forest, like she spent the morning at a cleansing spa.