Jeff Green | Aug 07, 2008
Feature Article - August 7, 2008
Back toHomeFeature Article - July 31, 2008 Reta Bush: Lost in the Woods, Now Media DarlingBy Jeff GreenWhen Reta Bush set out to get a few more blueberries before the first good blueberry season in 10 years came to an end, she had no idea it would start a chain of events that would lead to regional, and even national, media exposure.
If she had, she probably would have simply used the berries she had already picked this year to make a pie.
Things started out well enough. Reta was picking in a spot she knew well. It was close to home, and she was near the road and within sight of her car. She managed to get her ice cream container full when she decided to get a few more berries. She left her container behind, and took a smaller container with her futher into the bush; that's when she got turned around and ended up getting lost in the woods.
After a 44-hour odyssey, during which time she suffered a fall that damaged her knee; she had to pull herself out of the water (she doesn't swim); she had encounters with beavers, a lone wolf, leeches, and spent two cold, damp nights, Reta Bush was found by an OPP helicopter six miles from where she had started out.
Her ordeal wasn't quite over yet, however. The helicopter could not land where she was located, so an OPP officer jumped to the ground from the helicopter.
“He was carrying water bottles, and I really needed water, but they all broke when he hit the ground,” Reta said, “but there was about a quarter of an inch of water and he had some peanuts”
Twenty minutes later another officer reached Reta on foot, and the two men carried her to a pond and placed her in a canoe. They paddled to higher ground, and then carried her further, finally getting to a road and an ambulance.
She was transferred to Perth hospital where she remained overnight.
Throughout the 44 hours Reta ate only blueberries, but those berries that had tempted her into harm’s way might also have saved her life, because she suffers from diabetes and was afraid of letting her blood sugar get too low. “I wasn't scared of the animals; the second night the bears were quite close to me, but it didn’t bother me because I am not scared of them. I was worried about low sugar. I've had it a couple of times, so I kept eating those berries whenever I could find some,” she said. “If I hadn't found the berries I might not be here now.”
Ever since her return home, she has been recovering with the help of her family. Reta has seven survivng children and most of them live not far from her home near Echo Lake, off the Wagarville Road, where she has lived for 49 years. For most of that time she has been running a farm and raising a family.
Reta Bush has also been answering a growing number of media enquiries. She was on the cover of the Whig, on CBC radio, and as we talked on Tuesday she was preparing to go to Kingston on Wednesday for an interview with Canada AM.
“I didn't want to do all this, but my son said that people should know that if they get lost they shouldn't give up. There is always something they can do to keep going,” she said.
As for the berries she had already picked before she got lost. The ice cream container was recovered, blueberries and all. Reta's granddaughter baked them into two pies, one with sugar and one with a sugar substitue. And Reta said they were delicious.
“I think I might bake some blueberry pies to enter into the Parham Fair this year,” she said, “I've won for my pies in the past.”
She might be the sentimental favourite this year.