Raspberries Ripen in July, Love Follows
I was in my son’s garden this afternoon, picking raspberries. I picked berries when I was little in my father’s garden at the end of our yard, and that’s how friends have remembered me “…and you had that raspberry patch.” Sixty years ago.
When the strawberries have finished, the raspberries come on, the new canes full, the weight of the berries bending the plant over like a fishing rod, weighted, line taut, promising.
I planted berries at the end of my yard, and now my son has a raspberry patch, to be followed by blackberries, in a week or so, one fruit ending as another ripens.
His family is out-ot-town in mid-July, and I pick for the future raspberry sauce in January, pulled from the freezer. The raspberries are rooted from thirty years ago, sixty years ago, generations bearing generations. Even if the fruit is not from the same roots it is destined for the same tooth. Sweetness.
The seasonal succession of bearing fruit. Wet springs, dry summers, bees in the blossoms, runners expanding the patch in profusion.
I wrote a little poem about the generations.
She loves to find June strawberries.
Red bulbs hang beneath the leaves.
We walk to the garden for lettuce.
“They’re all gone,” I say,
“Strawberries are done for the season.”
Then she pulls a red one from down low,
Good at this game eye-level hide and seek and sweet.
I bend and crouch, back stiff, to look again.
There’s an old photo of me in the strawberry patch
Two years old, sun shining on blonde hair,
“The berry picker,” it should say.
My grand-daughter shakes her head
As she nibbles the berry
Sun shining on gold-flecked hair.
There are thorns and weeds and metaphors galore. It isn’t always easy picking. But for today, it is past and future and warm, languid present.
Cheryl Layne West
I picked raspberries in 1997 at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, 80 acres in Sonoma County CA where I attended a two week Permaculture class and slept in a yurt. I got up, or down, from my bunk and went into the garden where greenness and goodness was all mine. I picked and ate and thought, this is the closest I’ll ever get to being a hunter gatherer.
Oh, the memories of your backyard and our times together as little girls! Thank you!
Oh lovely. Our grandchildren arrive today–teenagers now–the ripenings continue~ We’re so happy to be able to be with them.
Beautiful. I love the feeling I get reading this. Warm and sweet.