A Bountiful Harvest

Dearest Rachel –

Normally, when he barks to be let out during the day, I’m not the one home to put Chompers out; that’s something Daniel handles. Even when I’m home, I’m usually busy with Jan in another part of the house. And during weekends and holidays, when I am the go-to for getting him outside, I’m not usually paying that much attention to our surroundings. The backyard is the backyard is the backyard – what’s different about it from day to day, after all?

And for the most part, there isn’t much. But this is near the beginning of the month of July, and the raspberry plants are starting to bear fruit. I say starting – there are so many of them, and so much to pick.

As you can see. In fact, this is after doing some picking already.
And just for the sake of reference, this is how far the raspberry bushes have spread – all the way from the edge of the house to the deck.

We didn’t plant these things. And they didn’t start out right behind our chimney, either. These used to cluster along our fence, and were planted by our neighbor Mrs. M. We would occasionally, this time of year, pick a few fruits from the branches that would dangle over onto our yard.

But over time, the plants continue to grow, and the roots seemed to extend into our yard, sprouting small bushes independent of hers. And while you once upon a time dreamed of having a garden in our backyard when we were first looking to buy a house, nothing ever came of those dreams; to borrow a phrase of yours and Ellen’s, actual gardening was “too much like work.”

But these raspberry plants were no work at all. They thrived without any attention whatsoever; indeed, they functioned more like weeds.

And who’s to say they were or weren’t? After all, the rose growing in a wheat field would be considered a weed, as would a stalk of weed in the midst of a finely manicured lawn. Any unwanted plant growing in something other than its pre-ordained spot could be considered a weed.

But to say that they were ‘unwanted’ would be judging them far too harshly. Again, since you never really put in a garden of your own, these served as the next best thing. Certainly they would produce a crop, although a fairly small one at the time.

Although, I somehow wonder if it might not be a case of not remembering to harvest. These things as I understand ripen quickly, and if they aren’t taken down right away, they will rot on the branch.

Worse yet – as I understand things, but I’m no horticulturist – if that ripe one isn’t removed, it will continue to suck all the nutrients coming up its branch, and those unripe ones won’t get much nourishment at all. So the right one rots, and the unripe ones never ripen.

There’s probably a parable or three in there somewhere.

But as I said, we have to remember to move quickly when everything starts to ripen, and quickly – or remembering – were not our strong suits. Why, even last year when the whole world was shut in, I don’t think any of us thought about it until long after the opportunity had come and gone.

In fact, I think this is the first harvest we’ve actually collected in three or four years. Now, I may be wrong; I didn’t eat nearly as many of the raspberries as you did when you were collecting them, and sometimes I only found out about the harvest after the fact – you would tell me about gathering them from the bushes and eating them on the spot, so there were none left for me anyway. I never expressed regret, as I could take or leave them. But I guess I’m gonna have to be taking them this time around.

I’ve already informed Ellen about these, and invited her over to collect whatever she can. But with her being in Macomb over the holiday, that’s going to have to wait until the end of the week. I’d say hopefully things don’t rot by then, but seeing how many are still unripe and growing, I don’t think there will be a problem with her having plenty of fresh fruit to collect when she comes over. Heck, there might be enough for Erin to collect a substantial amount as well. Although what either of them considers a ‘substantial amount’ may disagree with my own assessments.

Again, for the sake of reference. This was picked in the matter of a half an hour while leaving Chompers to his own devices in the backyard.
“Would you like some cereal under your raspberries?” “Thanks, don’t mind if I do.”

Yes, who cares about Raisin Bran when they could have a nice, heaping bowl of Riceberry Krispies instead?

Another very strange thing is that the plants that grew up on the fence between us and our neighbors seem to have for the most part died out. I was just talking to Mrs. M. yesterday about that, and she acknowledged that they’ve disappeared from her side of the yard, but since her own husband‘s passing, she doesn’t seem all that concerned about it.

However – and this is the truly curious part – this is the one plant from the fence that seems to have survived, and as you can see, it’s not even completely a raspberry bush, but rather producing… blackberries?

Well… who’s to say we might not be dealing with a whole new breed of bumper crop some time in the not-so-distant future?


Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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