...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The story of Little Checkered Riding Hood

There was a young girl from Quezon City
who tried her hand at picking blueberry
Her fingers turned blue
She had an itch in her shoe
So she thought: these better be tasty!

- Limerick by Mats Persson, revised

Once upon a time, in a far away land called the Kingdom of Sweden, there lived a little pretty girl (ehem!) called Little Checkered Riding Hood. She was not very tall indeed by the height average of the Kingdom, which is why she was called Little. And she was called Checkered because she borrowed a checkered shirt from The Fairy Godmother in the countryside where, and as we all know, everybody owns a checkered shirt.

One day in the high summer, Little Checkered Riding Hood went off to the forest with her Fairy Godfather to look for some blueberries. It was the right season for blueberry picking and they thought it was a great idea to fill their freezers in anticipation for the dark times to come. So they rode a silver Saab motorized horse to the edge of a forest where the terrain was right for blueberries to grow.

Soon they reached an old forest and tied the motorized horse by a small road. From where they were, they could see that the forest floor was literally covered with blueberry bushes. Little Checkered Riding Hood gave out an inner squeal of joy. It was a fine day and a perfect day for berry picking!

With her red bucket and bright orange made-in-Sweden berry picker, Checkered Riding Hood went deeper into the blueberry forest. There were berries precisely everywhere. Everywhere she laid her eyes on was something waiting to be plucked. The bushes were thick and grew up to her little knees.

Even though Fairy Godfather could see that others have also been there berry picking, there were more than enough berries left for many more pickers for the next weeks and days. Such was the abundance in this blueberry forest: Even if two people picked more than four people could eat and several more batches for freezing away, and even if Little Checkered Riding Hood's greedy eyes and greedy fingers made her pluck and pluck away like she was in a mania, the blueberries still seemed undiminished.

"I'll pluck there!," she thought. "Or there! Or there!". Sometimes she could quite literally catch a few blueberries just by carelessly swinging her berry picker in the air.

Otherwise, she was careful not to destroy the plants when picking the berries. Careful mass-plucking was possible with her clever bright orange tool. She takes a branch, rakes the tool carefully upwards against it to catch the berries and, with a flick of the hand, the berries make a jingling sound on the way down to the collector on the underside of the tool.

For a long while, Little Checkered Riding Hood and Fairy Godfather were there alone, picking several meters away from each other, with only the distant sound of a brook and the occasional sound of berries jingling down the collector to break the utter silence of the forest.

Several hours later, when the afternoon was getting late and just when Little Checkered Riding Hood's back was beginning to hurt from all the stooping, swarms of giant nasty mosquitoes awoke from their slumber underneath the bushes. They buzzed fiercely around Riding Hood's ears and around the places where she hadn't put mosquito repellant on. "I'll never complain about the price of blueberries ever again!", she thought as she desperately tried to brush the mosquitoes away. Her bucketful of blueberries will definitely save her several hundred Swedish kronor, but now she also knew that nasty mosquito bites were the price of her tightwaddedness, and of course, the price of experiencing berry picking. As everyone in the Kingdom knows, there can be no berry picking without mosquito bites. "Good mosquito repellant of the brand Mygga is still cheaper than a liter of blueberries," Little Checkered Riding Hood consoled herself.

The red bucket was heavy and almost full when the two companions decided to head for home. The blueberry forest was still teeming with berries when they left so that Little Checkered Riding Hood couldn't help feel a bit of reluctance leaving the forest. Blueberry forests had that magic effect on people, you see. One becomes obsessed with the picking after a while that only after leaving the forest is one remedied of the obsession. The companions' next challenge was to find their way back to where they left the motorized horse without getting lost deeper into the forest. Fairy Godfather used the sun as a reference but also had an magical map of the Kingdom (a.k.a. GPS) which they didn't need to use because they turned out to be a hundred or so meters from the road. The magical map was another one of those tools against the enchanting powers of the forest. Many a man have been said to have been lost in blueberry forests, enthusiastically picking in a stooped position and eventually losing track of where they had come from.

Back at the gingerbread house, leaves and crushed berries needed to be sorted away before the berries could be kept in small bags. This was a quick affair with the help of little gnomes:

In the evening, everyone enjoyed the fruit (don't mind the pun) of Checkered Riding Hood's and Fairy Godfather's labors, in the form of a blueberry pie. Everyone in the gingerbread house lived happily ever after.

Happiest of all was probably Riding Hood herself, who smacked so happily on her pie that she managed to tint all her teeth blue. Her fingers also turned blue from the picking, and a day later, her right hand swelled so much from the mosquito bites on her thumb that she had to take antihistamines and use a creme. Otherwise, peace reigned in the Kingdom and she too, lived happily ever after.

* This story is based on fact. Any resemblance to real life and real people is entirely uncoincidential!

* Blueberry pie recipe coming up next! I – or rather Little Checkered Riding Hood – deserves her piece of cake.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha! I love it!

3:38 AM

Anonymous Liz said...

Sounds like the tale of the blackberry pickers of Germany.... Except that they don't have a magic blackberry-picking device and instead of nasty mosquitoes, there were some very nasty brambles. In any case, they lived happily ever after upon consuming jar after jar of blackberry jam....

3:40 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

@ Liz: Yes, I heard about this story, the characters are related to Checkered Riding Hood (you know, Liz Thumb and the knight of the Autobahn?) By the way, you wanna berry picker? Not the most charming housewarming gift though, I know...

4:18 PM

Anonymous Lara said...

i love your post! and my, you did pick a looooot of berries.

7:48 AM

Anonymous Liz said...

Berry picker: pass on that for now. the berries to be picked here require a different gadget - if at all. Maybe some protective gauntlets will help

9:30 AM


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