@Oracle and Samboni: LOL, sorry I only have three parts.
Here's the last one. This part of the backstory is alittle sad but I really like how the end of the backstory and the short story tie together.
I mentioned earlier that my grandfather was an enthusiastic canoeist which isn’t entirely true. He was enthusiastic about anything that allowed him to be on the water and required a paddle in hand, whether it was a canoe, kayak, or raft.
When he retired and moved to Arizona (which was a few years before I was born), he took up white water rafting. He has been on many of the rivers there, at least a dozen times (maybe more) on the part of the Colorado River which goes through the Grand Canyon. I have to smile at the thought of him in a raft going down a set of rapids. Even after two heart attacks and several different surgeries, two of which replaced both of his knees, he was back on the river as soon as he recovered. I think the fact that he would rather be on the river than at home speed up some of his recoveries.
A few years ago, when he was 80, the doctor told him that he needed to have open-heart surgery. In addition, the doctor told him, as well as my grandmother just to be safe, that he could no longer go rafting or canoeing anymore. It just wasn’t safe anymore for him with his heart problems. That must have been difficult for him. My grandmother told me that it took him longer to recovery from this surgery, he didn’t seem to have the motivation to do the exercises that he needed to do.
During all of this, I would call to see how he was doing before and after the surgery. However, this time instead of talking on the phone like he usually did, he would ask a few questions about how I am and what I’m doing, then pass the phone to my Grandmother. After a while, I decided it would be a good idea to go for a visit to see him in person. It had been awhile since I was there for a visit and my grandfather wasn’t talking on the phone like he normally would.
A few months later, I managed to go down for Christmas time (I was more than thrilled to visit Arizona in the winter. Winter had shown up in early October where I lived and it was already around -40 by December) . My grandmother picked me up at the airport, my grandfather didn’t drive much anymore and he hated to sit in the passenger seat. On the way home, my grandmother told me that he had wanted to take me to one of the rivers to go canoeing but she was strongly advising against it. Given the circumstance, I agreed with her. My grandfather did mention it once while I was there but said that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea if the water was low. I could tell he was disappointed that he couldn’t take me.
On one of the evenings, I thought that he might appreciate seeing some of the pictures I had from canoes. I had a few on my laptop so I pulled it out and showed them to him. He looked at them and smiled but didn’t say much. After I finished showing him the pictures, he got up and left the room. He came back a shortly after with a few pictures in hand. One of them was a group picture from an aquatic school in Kansas that he attended prior to working at the canoe base. He loves to show the picture to anyone that he can and to see if they can pick out which one is him. The aquatic school was where he first met the director of the canoe base. He was looking for a staff member for the next summer and asked one of my grandfather’s friends. His friend was able to go so he quickly volunteered to go. That was the first time he went canoeing in northern Minnesota and Ontario and fell in love with the area.
He worked there for a total of four years with a few years in-between as a pilot in WWII. Afterwards, he would periodically return for a trip and would take anyone that he could. This eventually led to the family trip in 1992 (hopefully, you see where I’m going with this).
He told me the story of meeting the canoe director as well as several of his adventures while he was there. After a few stories, he asked me if he ever told me how he got the job...that was the first story that he had told me. I was surprised by his question because I didn’t realize how bad his short term memory was getting. He would occasionally ask me a question and then an hour or two ask me again but nothing like this. My grandmother had mentioned that she noticed that while his long-term memory seemed fine, he was having trouble with his short-term memory. As a side note, he was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The next morning, when I got up my grandfather was already out of the house doing his morning routine. He usually got back about an hour before lunch. I went to the kitchen to get something for breakfast. While I was pouring myself some cereal, my grandmother pulled out a package from the fridge. She said my grandfather had made a trip to the store to get it. He thought I might like it with my breakfast. It was a package of blueberries...
Chapter 5: Old Bear
At Old Bear's house, Reagle landed at the bank of Scary Pond. The pond had murky water with dark tall trees standing in the water.
"I wonder why it is called Scary Pond?" Mike asked sarcastically.
"There is the house," Blue said pointing to it. The house was tall and eery. Weeds grew all over the yard.
"I wonder how much money you could get for cleaning that house?" Sandy said.
"What's money?" Reagle asked because he had never heard about money before.
"It's nothing. We use it back home to buy things," Sandy answered.
"How do we get the book from Old Bear?" Mike asked.
"Very carefully," Blue answered.
"But what if she stops us?" Mike replied.
"Queen Berry said that if that happens, to throw blueberries at her because she blows up like a ballon when she gets blueberries on her. Oh, Reagle stay here, O.K.," said Blue.
"Fine with me, I don't want to go there." Reagle answered.
So Mike, Sandy, Spotty, and Blue opened the door to Old Bear's house. Inside there were cobwebs everywhere and dust on everything.
"Man she needs a housemaid," Mike said.
"Shhh! She might hear us," Blue said in a quiet voice.
Soon they were at a big door and Spotty was smelling it.
"Why don't we open it?" Mike asked.
"Go ahead," Blue replied.
So Mike open the door. Right in the middle of the room was the book. Old Bear jumped right out in front of them. Old Bear was a very old crooked bear.
She said in a crooked voice, "So you think you can take my book. Well, think again."
Without thinking, Mike grabbed his slingshot and a blueberry and shot it right into the bear's face. Old Bear blew up like a balloon and floated out the window.
While this was happening, Spotty ran over and got the book and brought it back to Blue.
"We have the book! Now we can go back to the castle," Blue said.
Chapter Six: Back Home
They left the Old Bear’s house and ran back to where Reagle was waiting for them. When they reached him, Reagle was fast asleep.
“Reagle!! Wake up!!” Blue yelled.
Reagle woke with a start. “What…no, I didn’t eat the pies…Oh, it’s you.”
“We have the book and we’re ready to go back to the castle.” Sandy said.
“Good, I was starting to get bored waiting here and I know a short cut home.” Reagle said.
“A short cut?! Why didn’t we use it get here!” Blue exclaimed.
“You never asked.” Reagle replied.
It only took half a day to get back to the castle using Reagle’s short cut.
When they got to the castle the sun was starting to setting. Reagle landed right in the garden. Queen Berry was sitting in the garden. They all jumped off Reagle's back.
"We have the book," Blue said, waving the book in the air.
"That didn't take too long," Queen Berry said looking at them.
"What do we do with it?" Mike asked.
"Burn it!" Queen Berry answered.
"Why?" Blue asked.
"It's the only way to break the spell," Queen Berry answered.
"What are we waiting for?" Reagle asked.
After burning the book, they had a dinner in honor of Sandy, Mike, Baby Blue, Reagle, and Spotty. At the dinner, there was a blueberry roast, blueberry biscuits with blueberry butter, blueberries, blueberry pies, and a great deal more.
After the food was gone, everyone went to bed.
When Sandy woke up in the morning, she was not in the castle; she was in her own bed. When she got out of bed she stepped on Spotty's tail like she does every morning. Sandy ran into Mike's room with Spotty close behind her. She woke up Mike
and dragged him downstairs. Their Mother and Father were eating breakfast.
When Mother saw them, she said, "Go get dressed, kids."
"We finally had some rain last night. We have to pick the blueberries now." Father added.
"But we were on Blueberry Island last night, but... we're back home, now," Mike and Sandy said at the same time.
"Stop fooling around and get dressed. You were never on any island, you were here last night. So just forget about it," Mother said.
But Mike, Sandy, and Spotty never forgot about their adventures with Queen Berry, Baby Blue, and Reagle the Eagle on Blueberry Island.
'Journey to Blueberry Island' was written in 1992. It was dedicated to Papa John (my grandfather) and inspired by his blueberry pies.
Thanks for reading and I hoped you enjoyed it.