Thursday, September 26, 2013

Raspberries & Chocolate & Sunshine, Oh My

This has been a beautiful week in western New York. High 60s, sunshine, blue skies, fluffy clouds. Scattered on the outskirts of our little town are all sorts of farms advertising "U Pick" this and "U Pick" that. I thought it sounded like fun, and when I checked out the forecast last Sunday and saw only happiness predicted, I decided that the kids and I were going adventuring. We were going to pick something.

The season dictated the fall crop of raspberries, so we picked up our little pint baskets at the farm stand and away we went.

My childhood is dotted with wonderful memories of this fruit. My grandparents lived in Erie, and every summer the raspberry bushes they'd planted along the side of the garage would bend heavy with juicy red berries. I can still taste the tart sweetness of them when I remember the long, quiet afternoons I would idle away in the shade of that yard, telling myself stories and plucking raspberry after raspberry off the tangle of green bushes. When I think of my grandma I encounter a whole host of sweet and complicated memories, but the ones that stand out conjure grape Hi-C and puffy round sugar cookies and raspberries that sweetened hot summer days.

The last time I picked berries with the kids, the twins were two or three, Chloe was maybe five, and Charlie was still a miracle in the making. I remember it was strawberries, and I remember it was about 90% work and 10% fun, tops. None of the kids understood what they were supposed to be doing. The ground was uneven and the twins kept tripping over their own feet and erupting into tantrums as they fell in the mud. The strawberries were hard to pick, not very ripe, and expensive. I got home and decided to chuck my vision of becoming the wholesome, organic mama picking fruit with her darling babes and just go back to buying Smuckers at Walmart, for heaven's sake.

What a difference a few years make! The kids really, genuinely enjoyed picking the fruit today. They each filled up a pint while Charlie ate his weight in raspberries, but it kept him busy, so I ran with it.

We made a chocolate raspberry cheesecake, a few jars of jam, and some happy memories in this new home of ours.

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