Raspberry is an elementary school spelling bee that I could’ve won if it weren’t for that pesky ‘p’ (I’ll never forget it again).
It is utter glee at stumbling upon ripe raspberry bushes tucked alongside the driveway, their plump red jewels gleaming in the sunshine as they peek out from under fuzzy, green leaves. Picking them with careful fingers, wishing there were more of the rare delicacies. Or finding an extremely rare patch of black raspberries in our front yard and never feeling so lucky in all our lives. (And keeping the goat away from it so we can save all the wonderfully sweet berries for ourselves.) It’s explaining to my mom the difference between black raspberries and blackberries and how to tell by the plant before the little buds ever ripen. Watching them grow and hoping and praying for enough rain. Enough sunshine. Enough time for them to sweeten. Then it’s popping their tender flesh from the stalk, revealing the bright orange, pointy base.
It’s realizing they are ready and racing to the house to get a container. Carrying a big bowl down the driveway and filling it with black and red fruits, more black than red, and realizing that finding raspberries is a bit more difficult than you thought. And so, being all the more thankful for each one. It is scratched up arms and thorns in my fingers, and wondering how it is that my dog can pop them off with such ease using only her lips. Risking life and limb to reach those hard-to-get, but oh-so-delicious-looking ones. And feeding the buggy berries to my goat and smiling because he enjoys them so much. It’s purple-tinted fingers and picking leaves and Japanese beetles from the strainer with my daughters. It’s memories of their poochy little diaper-clad bottoms toddling down the driveway in the middle of summer and their squeals of delight. They, too, somehow never managed to get pricked, though my tender fingers still can’t figure out how.
It’s plucking berries from a giant patch of tall, thorny vines in the dark with my cousin and best friend, Becky when we were younger. And laughing at ourselves when the noise that we were sure was a hungry bear turned out to be her German Shepherd crashing through the bushes. It’s black and red berries simmering in a silver pot of sugar water and stirring so it didn’t stick. Mixing fluffy dough, plopping it by the spoonful on top of the hot berry juice mix. It’s the smell of berry cobbler baking in the oven and hardly being able to wait until it’s done (while the drool pools in the corner of your mouth). And knowing how delicious it will be topped with cold vanilla bean ice cream, if the timer would ever ding.
Raspberry is looking forward to the taste of summer in the middle of winter. And knowing the difference between the ones in the store and the wild ones you find yourself.