When I am insatiably thirsty, I close my eyes and think back to a worn tin cup that used to hang from a branch on the banks of a small forest stream on the Lane Road behind my grandparents’ house in Jonesboro.

The narrow path led to the blueberry barrens about two miles away and was a special place for me as a young girl.

The water was ice-cold and clear. I carried a lunch tied inside a scarf. My favorite one was deviled ham on homemade bread, a peeled cucumber from my grandfather’s garden, and freshly baked molasses cookies.

I would savor this forest picnic sitting on a rock and dangling my bare feet in the cool stream.

It was a magical place, and it was all mine.

Sunlight filtered through the lofty trees, forming lacy patterns on the mossy banks and dancing on the rippling water.

The air was filled with the smell of cool moss and pine needles. I never thought about how alone I was. I felt safe and at peace.

Beyond the stream on the path ahead were the blueberry barrens. When the berries were in season, it seemed as if a royal-blue carpet covered the entire horizon, broken only by winding, dusty roads and the small camps of the migrant berry-pickers.

The summers I raked to earn money for school clothes were wonderful times.

I would hop on the back of a neighbor’s truck with several of my friends, our lunches, bushel baskets and blueberry rakes in tow.

With our legs hanging over the side, we would sing and laugh as the truck bumped along the Station Road until we came to the blueberry fields.

Stringed rows of ripened blueberries, weathered winnowing machines and stacks of wooden boxes dotted the fields.

The air was fresh with sweet fern and the sea from the nearby tidal Chandler River that wound its way through town.

At the end of the season, I would head to Millie Look’s store to buy beaded moccasins for the school year, along with a pair of boy’s stiff blue jeans.

I would pick out a few outfits from a small clothing store in Machias, seven miles away. If I had any money left over, I would take in a movie or go to Helen’s Restaurant for a fried clam basket and a piece of the best graham cracker pie around!

Years later my elderly mother and I made a trip back to Jonesboro, to visit the Forest Lawn Cemetery nestled in one corner of the blueberry fields.

The season wasn’t yet in full swing, but looking out over the barrens, I could almost see the field of royal blue that greeted me years ago.

I could smell the salt air and feel the warm summer sun on my tanned face. I closed my eyes and pictured the tin cup and cool stream of my girlhood.

I remembered a time when I was young and free, a time when blue jeans had to be washed before they could be worn.