Raspberries, Jan 21, 1999

The warm sun kissed the deep blue sky on a day in late October. The late afternoon offered up a feast for the senses. This was indeed the day they called Indian Summer. The trees had started to turn, the locusts a golden yellow, the sugar maples red and orange. The strong southwest wind brought the warm air and we as a family headed out to pick apples and raspberries.

I crossed the road carrying my green quart baskets and I was stopped by a picker who is just leaving the field. “The best ones are in the back,” he said, “you have to walk a bit farther, but they are better there.” The testament to his words is in his hands, two softly rounded piles of delicious looking raspberries – for he carries two baskets.

The taste buds in the back of my mouth started to water and I imagine how good they will taste. I can feel my tongue softly pressing down on the ripe berries . . . and I hurry across the road to the the first field.

U Pick Raspberries

He was right about the berries in the back of the field, the stranger who shared his secret. I was tempted by the immature, the not yet ripe and the occasional full fruit but ignored them for the promise of a field of lush berries.

It was worth the extra walk.

I took my time in these rows, the berries I wanted were at the top of the plant, just below my chest – the right height for an afternoon of picking. Carefully I chose the berries. I have large hands, and one has to be very gentle in picking raspberries, careful not to rush . . . careful not to crush.

The whole experience makes me feel alive, the afternoon sun, the warm breeze and the soft berries in my hands. With the slightest of tugs a perfect berry falls from the vine and it is in your hands . . . first one hand, then the other. Sometimes I tug with a twist, and in the moments of temptation, I place the full ripe berry in my mouth. Rolled with my tongue I softly squeeze – and flood of pleasure fills my mouth.

Smiling I reach for another raspberry.

The day is one of simple pleasures on a warm October afternoon.

The sun begins it descent early, and in the western sky a blanket of cirrus clouds turn from creamy white to orange and then light pink. I stood, I watched, I felt and I was thankful.

We move too fast, this culture of ours. We race hither to and fro about the planet, and at the end of the day, for what?

I took that warm October day and it’s memories and decided to try and bottle it at home. I figured, what the hell, if Bette Crocker can do it, why can’t I?

It makes me smile when I think of my oldest off to school thousands of miles away, spreading raspberry jam on just about everything she can think of.

I love you T.

I miss you.

But I suppose that’s what life is about, growing up, branching out.

I hope you enjoy the jam.

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