Sweet Tea Strawberries

Avondale Woods 
#1


The weather had hit that point in the summer where it decided to finally calm down and reach a more comfortable degree. Having been raised in the south Anabelle was of more use to the blistering heat, but the last three years in cordova had made her appreciate the wonder of a moderate day where you weren't sweating like crazy and drinking gallons of sweet tea on the back porch.

She still drank sweet tea on the back porch of course.

As it was her day off she decided to go foraging for strawberries, or really anything she could find in the Avondale forrest. There was woods much closer to home, but sometimes she just needed to get out of North Glenn and explore nature in other places.

The day being as nice as it was meant there was quite a few other hikers out on the trails, and not being much for conversation she was quick to divert her path to one of the more difficult trails. Figuring that she would be mostly alone that way.

She hadn't planned on going this way and was certainly not wearing the correct shoes for the difficult climb up a rocky hill. So it wasn't all that surprising when the back of her boot slipped on a more loose stone sending her keraning forwards with a shrek and waving arms, as if that would help any.
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#2

The full moon would be hitting soon, and while Blaise typically tried to lay low during that time, she was also in need of finding an appropriate place to shift for the night. She had done plenty of research on these particular woods, but seeing them with her own eyes would be the only way she could truly tell if she could romp around as she wished.

At first look, it seemed that it would be a no go, the hiking trails seeming much to popular, but after searching further in the brush, it became clear that there were some areas that no one seemed to visit at all. This would be even more true at the dead of night when she would be shifted, proving that it would be safe enough for not only her, but any humans as well.

Content with her findings, Blaise began to make her way back towards the main trails when she spotted a woman not too far off. She was quite clearly out of her element, and so Blaise would make her way closer, arriving just in time to watch the lady flail ungracefully, a hand reaching out to grasp at the womans wrist just as she threatened to spill over.

"Gotcha." She huffed, eyes wide as she made to pull her back upright.
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#3
She was tipping backwards and her foot sliding down against more loose rocks when a hand shot out before her grasping hold of wrist and somehow keeping her from falling. With a pull from said hand and her own scrambling she was once again righted on the path on a less percarious section.

The person who had saved her turned out to be a dark skined woman with warm golden hair and dressed rather like a jogger. Anabelle hadn't thought anyone would attempt to do a run up on the more difficult trails. It gave her a immediate awe of said woman.

"Thank you kindly."

She smiled at the woman and brushed some loose hair out of her eyes. It seemed the flailing had caused some strands to come out of her braid.
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#4
Blaise would release her hold on the womans wrist only when it was clear that there was no more risk for falling, taking a step back to allow her some room to collect herself. Glancing at both the outfit and the heels, Blaise was rather surprised she had made it this far without having busted her ass on the rocky terrain, a blessing actually.

Offering a small, but genuine, smile at the womans gratitude, dipping her head in acknowledgement. "It's no problem, although I think with shoes like that you might want to stick to the easier trails." No hate, just some friendly advice.
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#5
She wasn't at all upset when the woman rather pointedly mentioned the boots which had caused the problem in the first place. She knew how stupid it was to wear them up the steeper climbs. Hadn't stopped her of course.

"I was only planning on going on the easier paths but there''s just so many people. "

Still felt the need to justify herself to the woman though.

"I came to pick strawberries so I admit I didn't dress for a long hike."
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#6
Blaise would glance back towards the trails at the mention of people, raising a brow before moving her gaze back to the woman. "I wasn't are there were strawberries out here." She mused, before giving a soft huff of a chuckle. "How about I walk with you to them, so that I can make sure you don't go falling?" It was only an offer, one simply made because she had very little else to do throughout the day.
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#7
The offer of accompaniment was rather surprising. But after a moment of though Anabelle decided the woman probably would like some of the sweet fruit as well, and it would be a nice way to repay the save.

"My own knight in shining arm? I wouldn't mind at all. Picking strawberries is fun with company. My name is Anabelle."

She held out a hand expecting a hand shake or something of that sort of greeting. There was bound to be enough of the fruit for the both of them. And she didn't need all that much, only looking for enough to make a jam out of.
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#8
Blaise rather liked the idea of being seen as a knight, laughing aloud as her eyes rolled up towards the sky, giving the offered hand a shake. "Blaise." She answered, motioning for Anabelle to lead the way. "So what got you in the mood for some of these fresh fruits?"
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#9
Blaise, it was a nice name, rolled off the tongue. Sounded like something from Lousiana. She had been to New Orleans before with her brothers for Mardi Gra. It had been quiet a thing, and she was glad her parents hadn't come along.

"Well I'm looking to make some jam and fresh strawberries would be the best."

She took a few steps down the path feeling like it was the time in which they should start the foraging, but she wouldn't have minded chatting there for a little while longer.
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#10
Blaise had never made fresh jam before, nor had she ever really thought to make it and so props would be given to the woman as she followed her down the rocky path. "Do you often find yourself going on these risky walks for fresh jam then?" She asked, ducking over a lower hanging tree limb that lay in their path.
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#11
Risky walks. She couldn't help a small laugh.

"Well I don't usually get saved by such a lovely person. But I do like to go out into nature, especially if there is food as a reward."

There was a lot of things she could put the jam on when she made it. And if she collected more then needed then she could make more and send it home to her brothers. They always appreciated the homemade food.
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#12
Food was always a great reward for things, especially when you had an alternative version of yourself that was a Hyena. "My type of girl." Blaise chuckled, shaking her head as she slid her feet down a rather steep hill, hand held out for Annabel to grab if she needed to. "So how far down are these ingredients?"
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#13
Anabelle didn't hesitate to take the offered hand. She didn't need to almost fall again, that would be embarrasing. Blaise's grip was warm and strong and she found she rather liked having the help.

"They tend to like a bit more of an open space so I think we should find some in the next clearing."

Or at least she hoped so. She had never been to the Avondale woods before and couldn't be entirely certain where the berry was growing. But the did prefer more open areas that gave them sunlight.
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#14
Annabel would grab at her hand, and Blaise would hold her steady on their decent down. The Hyena roared for a faster pace, but Blaise would hold tight, not wanting to drag the woman down any faster than she was fit to do. Once down the slope, Blaise would squint her gaze through the brush nodding. "Alright, I'll keep an eye for clearing then." She wasn't quite sure what berry bushes looked like, but she assumed that they would be riddled with red dots.
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#15
Anabelle was rather fit, after all she rode horses for a living. The only hinderince to their downward hike was the darn boots she was wearing. In the back of her head she quietly told herself she was going to throw them out when she got home. They were too cute for their own good, and really when would they ever be pratical? Obviously not here.

She didn't immediatly let go of Blaise's hand when they reached the bottom, letting the warmth of the other's fingers soak into her skin for a few more seconds before letting go.

"Have you been in the area before?"

She asked somewhat hopefully.
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#16
Blaise didn't miss the prolonged hand holding, but she would not pull her hand away either, assuming that Annabel was still trying to steady herself from their trip down. At the question, Blaise would just shake her head, offering an apologetic smile. "Today'y my first day visiting this place actually. I just moved to Cordova a few weeks ago." And while she had done her fair share of exploring, she hadn't really found a go to spot just yet. "I did do a good bit of jogging through here earlier, so I can easily get us back if we happen to get lost."
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#17
Oh a newcomer! That was delightful. Anabelle beamed at Blaise as they continued walking.

"Oh bless you're heart you're going to love it here in Cordova. I moved here three years ago and its been wonderful. I know a lot of other places if you need a place to hike out in nature as well. In fact I work at a horse ranch giving tours on the trails there."

She was a little more enthusiastic then she had expected. Then again she hadn't really had a friend in those whole three years, just accuantinces. It was rather nice to talk to someone.
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#18
Blaise could see her living here for three years, maybe more if she played her cards right, thoroughly enjoying all the friendly faces she had met in just her short amount of time being here. "You'll have to show me sometime." She answered, smiling broadly. "Although I have bit of a fear for horses, so maybe not them too much." She was more than positive the large beasts would freak in her presence, having more than her fair share of crazed animal encounters.
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#19
She had meet a few children who didn't like horses, usually when their parents decided to take a tour to get the child over their fear. It didn't often end well.

"There are plenty of places all around Cordova that are good for just walking. There are even some waterfalls out on the outskirts that are just lovely."

While she talked she kept her eyes peeled for any sign of the small green plant and it's red fruit. They would hopefully come upon some soon.
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#20
At the mention of waterfalls, Blaise would visibly perk up, interest peaked at the idea of seeing this landscape in person. "I'll definitely be checking out those soon then." She hummed,

At the mention of waterfalls Blaise would visibly perk up , her interest peaked at the idea of seeing such a beautiful landscape in person. She had always wanted to go visit the Niagara Falls but had never gotten the chance, and while it was doubtful that these waterfalls would be as grand, she'd still be offered a small taste in what to expect later down the road. "Oh, I'll definitely be checking that out then." She hummed, darting off towards the side as something red caught her eye. "Hey look!" Is all she called before pushing past the first few shrubs before entering a small clearing.

There weren't quite a dozen strawberries like Blaise had half expected, but there were definitely enough to make a small jam and still have a few leftover, which was more than enough for her. Glancing back towards Anabelle, she'd offer a wide smile, waiving her hand out towards the bushes. "Found them."
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#21
The idea of waterfalls certainly seemed to interest Blaise. She would have to see about taking the woman out to them in the future then. Before she could give any voice to the idea though the sight of the berries caught all the attention.

The clearling wasn't very big and there were only a few strawberry plants, It would be enough for the jam though and even some to eat in the moment. Which was all she could hope for.

"Oh how wonderful. You have a keen eye."
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#22
"Of course I do." She chuckled, moving to pluck a single berry, inspecting the outside for worms or anything before handing it over the Anabelle. "Know how many you want to get?" It probably wouldn't be nice to all the forest animals to pluck the bushes clean, and so best to just pick what they needed and bounce.
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#23
She leaned close to Blaise to get a good look at the strawberry. It would all be for nought if there was something wrong with them. Bugs, over ripeness, etc. But the berry looked whole enough. She took it carefully from Blaise and pulled out a small bag from a pocket of her jeans.

"15 or 20 depending on the size."

This patch looked like it would supply that much. She didnt' want to take all the strawberries from the forrest after all.

"It wouldn't hurt to taste one as well."
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#24
Fifteen to twenty sounded like a lot, but Blaise was no expert in the jam making process, and so they would trust Annabels words, hands already working to pull at another berry. "Oh I planned to." She'd chuckle, holding the strawberry out to place within the bag. "But probably after we wash them." There was absolutely no telling what sort of insects or animals had made their presence known on this particular bush,
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#25
Anabelle couldn't help but laugh even as Blaise handed over another strawberry. Half of the point of berry hunting was to stuff as many of the fruits into your mouth as possible not caring at all about where they had come from or the occasional crunch of dirt between teeth. It wasn't the wisest thing to do considering all the germs and other things undoubtedly coating the outside of the berry. Still it had been rather fun as a child.

She could remember comparing red tongues and lips with her brothers and getting scolded for only eating instead of picking.

"I have a water bottle in my car we can take them back there and wash them off first."
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#26
Blaise would nod, hands continuing to weave in and out of the bush, grasping at strawberries and quickly dropping them into the plastic bag. She could feel her pace quickening as the Hyena wiggled anxiously in her mind, excited by the promised snack that awaited them. "Any other hidden berries out here?'" Blaise called from her picking, fingers still working as she made an attempt at some sort of small talk.
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#27
She had to admit Blaise was a fast berry picker. The woman's hands all but darted between the leaves plucking red fruit here and there. At this rate the bag would be full soon.

"I'm not sure on this wood in particular. But there are usually blueberries and blackberries to be found as well."

She would have to go buy a container of fruit at this rate. Just thinking about what food lay hidden among the undergrowth was starting to make her hungry. Nothing was better then a home grown, home cooked meal after all. She did have a little garden in her backyard, but she had only planted tomatoes and some zucchini this year. Maybe after the winter she could build some more beds and expand her produce.
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#28
Blaise would definitely be checking out these woods in full later then. Nodding her head in interest, Blaise would continue working in silence until she could no longer stuff anymore berries into the offered baggy, rising from her squat with a brushing of her pants. "Well, I think that about does it." She sighed, arms going into a stretch above her. "Unless you think you need more?"
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#29
And just like that the bag was completely full. She couldn't hid her surprise. Afterall she hadn't thought Blaise was an experienced picker in the least. But now she was starting to second guess that opinion.

"Oh no that's plenty. And more than enough for a snack when we get back down the trail. Have you gone to pick berries often? You seem really skilled at it."

As she talked she would attempt to close said bag so that she could carry it without spilling any of the contents.
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#30
Eyebrow raising, Blaise would shake her head, taking a few steps back from the bush and back towards the trail. "Thanks, but I don't think it's a very hard thing to pick up on."
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#31
Oh, well no clearly Blaise had not done much berry picking.

"Well you want to pull enough to get the berries off but not to hard to squish them. Not everyone is good at it, although it's not the hardest thing to pick up. My older brother, bless his heart, use to be just awful at it. He would squish the berries. And he had a habit of rubbing the juices in my hair when we were little."
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#32
Blaise would raise her brows in thoughts, giving her shoulders a soft shrug. If strength was typically the issue, then there was no doubt that she would be good at controlling hers. She had to appear as human as possible after all, and going around flashing her superhuman strength wouldn't be helping that case in the least.

"Brothers can be a lot to handle sometimes." She'd chuckle, shaking her head as she made her way further down the path. "But they definitely have your back in the end." In most cases at least.
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#33
Anabelle would follow after her, the bag firmly clutched in one hand.

"Isn't that the truth. They were little terrors when we were young but they've helped me a lot in the last few years. Do you have siblings?"

It sounded like she did.
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#34
"Two younger sister." Came the easy reply as Blaise hopped over a large stick that lay in their path. "I was thirteen when they were born, so there was a pretty big age difference there." It had been pretty hellish at the time, but Blaise had quickly come to love both of her sisters, taking up the role of older sister pretty easily. "Also had a pretty big group of friends back in Oklahoma that were pretty much family too." The tantrum had been much worse there too.
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#35
Oh Oklahama, over by Texas. That meant Blaise was basically a kindred spirit.

"Oh my. I'm from South Caroline myself. Where in Oklahoma are you from?"

She was awfully more surprised that Blaise hadn't going berry hunting then. But well she didn't know all that well what kind of landscape Oklahoma had. Caroline was rich with hills and forrests. She had never wanted for more lovely scenery.
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