Thursday, July 14, 2011
I'm starting to fret about the raspberries. The patch I walk by every day bears little resemblance to the remembrance of years past. What few red berries exist are small. The canes, which start to shrivel and die as the berries ripen, a most dramatic example of motherly sacrifice, seem more shriveled than usual. There are berries coming, still white, but they too seem fewer and smaller than normal. Some of the berries actually have blackened. Even worse, the usual pathmakers (those folks who live closer to the patch in many more ways than I do) have not yet broken the weeds and blazed the trails that allow the tyros in.
This potential disaster of a failed crop stands in contrast to the riot of growth everywhere else. Everything's so big this year. But perhaps what is good for flowers and weeds is not good for the more delicate of fruits. Perhaps weeds are choking the patch. Perhaps there was too much spring rain. Who knows the ways of wonders?
Or maybe it's just too early. Pray that's the case. I can't imagine a Maine July without that fix on my daily walks, that antidote to the deer flies, that precious handful brought back to the house like a love offering, and most of all without the sine qua non of pies, the single-crust beauty mounded with berries, simultaneously sweet and tart and the emblem of happiness. I suppose one could buy raspberries at a market. Such a pie would taste fine, but would not have essence of OFF, tinge of sweat, hint of pride, value of free, ache of back that comes with picking one's own. One might as well be in Massachusetts. As usual Thoreau, thinking about hot summers in Concord, said it best: "It is so much the more desirable at this season to breathe the raspberry air of Maine."