With the sun shining brightly, the cool waters of swimming holes refreshingly flushed, and vines and bushes teeming with ripe berries and melons of every variety, summer is easily my favorite time of year.
My son also revels in the relaxed schedule of the summer months. But because he is an only child, and his cousins aren’t always available while he is at his grandmother’s house while I’m working, he ends up watching way more TV and playing video games than I would like him to.
I’m always trying to think of new ways to keep him entertained. He will usually attend a few summer camps, but camps are often expensive and tend to not last more than a couple of hours during the day. So I try to pick one day out of the week and take a quick trip to a local swimming hole, explore a quaint small town within driving distance, or spend the day at a pick your own produce place.
One bright and sunny Friday, I decided it would be a great day for an adventure to Berryville. If you haven’t been to this gem of a small town, you should think about making the trip. Berryville doesn’t have much to offer as far as modern entertainment, but it’s filled with antique stores, surrounded by hidden swimming holes, and lots of friendly farms with fresh fruits, vegetables and local honey. On the way out of town, Raff and I picked up one of his friends and got on the highway.
I had heard from a friend of mine about an awesome little farm where we could pick strawberries, peaches, and buy some local honey. Since the place didn’t register in my GPS, I followed the directions my friend had provided.
After a couple of hours of winding roads, the boys and I arrived. The farm was adorable, just as picturesque as my friend had described it. We made our way to an old shanty looking structure that had a hand painted “Welcome” sign on it. As we approached the building, a white haired man in overalls came out to meet us.
“Hello! Welcome to Pickens’ Pick’Ems!” The man introduced himself as Mr. Avery and began telling us how his operation worked. Afterward, he left us to wander around and pick our produce.
We had a fantastic time in the neat rows of strawberry plants, and Raff and his friend had nearly exhausted themselves from jumping up to reach lush, ripe peaches suspended from their trees. We had filled all of our baskets and talked about all the yummy things we would make with our loot. We made our way back to the welcome shanty where Mr. Avery had greeted us to pay for our fruit.
When we got there, Mr. Avery asked if we also wanted some honey and if the boys wanted to see his bees. Of course they did, and Mr. Avery invited us to put our baskets down in the shanty and led us about an acre away where his bees were kept. He showed the boys the hives and gave some facts about them. Then he walked inside another shanty and came back with what seemed to be a flimsy container. He opened a wooden box, while bees were swarming all around his arms and face, and unflinchingly pulled out an enormous honeycomb dripping with honey. He placed it in the container, handed it to Raff, and explained he wanted him to have it as a gift.
We thanked Mr. Avery and made our way back to the front of the farm. We paid for our strawberries and peaches, and I offered to pay for the honey, but Mr. Avery refused and reminded me it was a gift. He thanked us for visiting and welcomed us to visit again.
I placed all of our goodies in the backseat where the boys were riding — instructing them to keep an eye on everything, especially the flimsy container of honey — and set out for the swimming hole we had passed on the way to Mr. Avery’s farm. We had gotten so hot while picking fruit that the idea of jumping into a cool pool of fresh water sounded so refreshing.
Several sharp curved roads led to the swimming hole, and as I was going around one curve that was especially snakey, I had to slam on my breaks to avoid hitting a small deer standing in the middle of the road.
“Yikes!” I said loudly as I braked and swerved.
“Everyone OK? Sorry to scare y’all! That deer came out of no where!”
“Uhhh, mom, we have a problem. This honey container opened up and is all over Brock and me.”
“What? Are you serious?” I asked, as I tried to look into the backseat and struggle to navigate the curvy road.
“Hang on, hold still, we are almost there,” I told Raff.
As I pulled into the gravel area near the secluded creek, I was able to look into the back seat to see that Raff and his friend Brock were covered, nearly head to toe, in sticky, goopy, sweet smelling honey.
“Oh. My. Gosh,” I said in disbelief. I hopped out of the vehicle and came around to open Raff’s door. I stared at him and Brock and they looked back at me questioningly, like how could they get out of the truck without making a bigger mess.
I instructed Raff to hold onto my arms as I slowly pulled and lifted him free from the back seat. Once he was securely on the ground, I peeled my arms away from his hands, and felt like I lost some arm hair in the process. I went around and did the same thing with Brock, and lost even more arm hair. Once both boys were out of the truck, all I could do was start laughing hysterically as they both looked at me helplessly sticky.
“The only thing I know to do is for you both to just go jump in the creek and wash off as you swim around. And watch out for little fish, they may try to nibble on you since I’m sure you’ll be tasting so good,” I joked.
The boys did not seem amused with my humor but ran towards the creek to get washed off. I peered into the back seat, wearily. I sighed. It would be quite the job for the car detailer, but the boys could ride back in the third row seat. I decided to not stress about something I couldn’t do anything about at that exact moment.
I shut the car door and walked towards the creek. As I got closer, I heard Raff calling my name.
“Mom! These little fish are biting my toes! I thought you were kidding! Mom!”
I laughed as I watched the boys get nibbled by tiny minnows and could just think… sweet, sweet, summertime.