September 23 marked the last opportunity for harvesting the exotic Black Hills Wild Black Currant. To punctuate the event, Sam and Linda (of Smiling Bear Espresso Bar and Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, Hill City, SD) packed up a truckload of overnight gear.
And off they went, anticipating a full moon to wind down with after a happy time of picking. And the picking was indeed happy. Since Sam could find no more chokecherries, he dove into the bushes and helped Linda glean currants. (Did I say bushes? I meant...jungle!...with no over-the-top view.) They called to each other now and then, especially when something rustled in there, and, well, they were just checking to see if the sound was one of us.
They moved from jungle to jungle, too. Sam returned from a particular expedition and told Linda about his methods. He would leave the main trail when he found a cowpath which appeared to descend into a promising patch of currants. To avoid lugging around the flat of currants already picked, he set the box at the edge of the main trail against a bush where he would return for it later.
Sam and Linda picked together for awhile, but with the sun steadily going down, Sam thought it was time to look for a campground. He went off to get the flat of currants from alongside the main trail. Linda continued picking. In about 15 minutes, Sam returned and said, "Funny, I thought I knew right where I put the box."
Linda opened the truck and poured her currants into the flat she had been filling. They both went in search of Sam's currants. This felt like a BIG deal to both of them...since currants are a luxury fruit and scarce to find. Sam's currants were especially scarce to find. They searched even further down the trail than Sam thought he went, just in case...just in case. Back and forth, back and forth. Sam went ahead and Linda backtracked, slowly, carefully searching every nook and bushy cranny.
One path Linda hadn't noticed before led into a small open space at the bottom, with both sides of the space not visible—so, she started down. Suddenly her feet were caught and she found herself flying through the air in too many directions and landing in the clearing soundly on both knees, and flat forward in the next instant, the calf muscle of one leg twisting and seeming to pop loose. She grabbed the muscle and squeezed, at the same time turning, while straightening her legs and managing to sit upright.
How long is a heartbeat?...it only took a few. Her knees throbbed. She rubbed them. "Thank God, nothing is broken." She felt grateful for that, and grateful, too, that the muscle wasn't torn. She sat there for a few minutes, musing and wondering over how she could possibly have come out of that wild fall intact...hands, wrists and elbows unscathed...head still there and unabused. It did seem miraculous, perhaps angels? Anyway, "Thank God!" Somewhat stiffly, she rose to her feet, moved around the clearing, gingerly, looking for Sam's currants. She heard herself say aloud, "They certainly aren't worth getting hurt over."
Linda turned to face the three strands of low-strung barbed wire that had been her downfall, and stepped over them carefully. Just as she reached the top of the path and pulled herself out onto the main trail, Sam called. He had turned around to ask her to drive the truck down the road a ways and pick him up, as he wanted to walk further to see if possibly someone had discovered the box while he and Linda were in the bushes; perhaps they carried it a bit, then sampled a currant, didn't like the taste and set the box down somewhere. (We were thinking a little strangely.)
Deciding to tell Sam later that she had fallen, Linda walked slowly toward the truck. Still examining the side of the trail in hopes of finding Sam's currants, her thoughts turned more gracious, more heavenward than before. It was nearly too dark to see shapes at this point. Passing an old post marker which Sam had made mention of earlier, Linda glanced into an open area without breaking stride, but then paused abruptly, leaned to see if the white spot she had glimpsed was a rock, about 10' back into the clearing, tucked nearly behind a bush. It was Sam's box!...tilted in such a way that the currants created a shadowy illusion making the box difficult to find. Linda was elated, knowing Sam would be relieved that the fruit of his labor had not been carried off or lost.
With no full moon visible due to complete cloud cover, and darkness imminent, Sam and Linda agreed on taking their picnic home, to relish while watching a movie. Camping could wait. They would select an alternate road home. Enough dusk light remained to allow the enjoyment of brilliant fall colors, which seemed also to light up the evening.