Friday, September 18, 2015

the work in the berry patch

It is Friday, and I am picking another batch of late season raspberries.  Given the weirdly hot weather and the lack of attention the plants are receiving during the school week these days, there are many berries that are overly ripe.  As I move down the row, I pull those moldy squishy yucky berries off.  This seems perhaps helpful to the plant somehow, or maybe it just looks better and makes me feel better not having to look at the berries I missed.  And I let them fall to the ground.

It is Friday.  And after another busy week of school and work, I am looking forward to everyone arriving home and for the weekend to begin.  I will put this bowl of freshly picked raspberries out for the kids to discover in the kitchen.  It's my own little nod to welcome to the weekend.  Here is a taste of home, of fresh sweet summer.  A magic potion to ease you into two days together, and remind you of when we had days and days of this.  Now you have had days and days of school, and both are equally exhausting.  And both kinds of days seem to need the other.

It is Friday.  And to my left, just through the lilac hedge, filled now with aster and fall foraging honeybees, is where you sat for hours at a table on another Friday a month ago, trying to sell blackberries.  That was a good day.

At the beginning of the summer, during the settling in period when we all needed to adjust to days without a plan, days without a schedule, days when the kids needed a little bit of direction, they asked me if there were things they might do to make some money this summer.  Without missing a beat, I started listing.  I was full of ideas.  Chicken care.  Weeding.  Mowing the lawn.

I was thinking of something that isn't yard work, said Nicholas.

Well.  There are the blackberries.

I was thinking of the bags of last year's frozen berries in the freezer.  The fact that we can't keep up with the berries once they really start coming ripe.  The hours I spend down there picking them each summer by myself.  Scratched and hot and trapped in the patch.

And so, the waiting for blackberry season began.  During that time, the canes flowered and were pollinated by our bees.  White hard berries developed, and then they began to color.  And then eventually, the first black berries were ready.  And during that growing time, the kids had gone from antsy and a bit lost and stumbling over themselves and their unscheduled time to being relaxed and slow and quiet and comfortable with an open day stretching before them.

And it was a Friday, that day when they decided it was now time.  They got up early and went to the patch and picked.  Signs were made.  Decorations were collected.  And the stand was readied.  And then, minutes, hours passed. And one child after another retreated to the house to get something to help pass the time.  And soon that blackberry stand was tended by three graphic novel reading children.  And then the time passed more happily.  And people who stopped got a bit of a book talk along with their berries.

It is Friday.  And we know what a ripe berry, and what an overly ripe berry feels like in our fingers.  We know what a school day spent doing the work of childhood, the growing, the learning, the stretching, feels like.  And we know what a summer day feels like too, doing the same things.

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