My hands are deep in raspberry leaves, my feet swathed by weeds, my head beaten by sun. I am gathering: picking raspberries with Naomi and our Idahoan friend Jeanne. We are plucking abundance to produce jam in the warm breezy summer sun of Naomi’s birth state.
Where are the boys? They’re off hunting. Well, not quite. Hunting season won’t come to Idaho for a few more months. They are preparing to hunt; target-shooting at a popular nearby site.
Quinn’s first time with a real gun. (deep breath) Naomi’s first time in a raspberry field. (big smile) Joy all around.
My hands might be deep in a raspberry bush but my heart is milling memories. Pulling together experiences into something meaningful. I am thinking of the joy of gathering. Quinn’s joy in hunting. I remember our human ancestors and their simple “uncivilized” ways. And I think to myself that hunting and gathering might not produce great economic gains but perhaps does produce a life well lived.
And that we, we, have been blessed these last six months, to hunt and gather God’s goodness.
Beautiful and jewel-like, raspberries adorn the ordinary green leaves of their patch. There for the picking. Just barely touched and kerplink,kerplank, kerplunk into the pails of our hearts. Goodness falling into our lives. God’s goodness is always there, isn’t it?? The rain falling on the just and the unjust. But most of the jewels, the reddest, ripest, sweetest jewels, are hidden. To reach them, we must pull leaves back. We must risk thorns. Sometimes we even lose a little blood. But under, back, behind the almost-hairy leaves and the prickly thorns; there we find the sweetest and the best. Gathering takes a lot of hunting.
And raspberries come in seasons, don’t they? And they take TIME to ripen. And they are best when eaten at their peak. And they can be enjoyed fresh or transformed into other, also-wondrous treats. ( shortcake!!) And they can mold and rot and waste when left unpicked, unseen.
I think back over time. I remember Egypt Night with the Leone’s. Tractor rides with the Shrums. Pretending with the Franklins. The haven of the Ruths. All the joys of Gramma and Grampa’s house. Parks with the Andrews. Long talks on Dana’s couch while the kids were deep in friendships. I recall sweet meals with Goo Goo and Boo Boo. Easter with the cousins. I treasure the Y with the Wallers. The creek with the Blanks. The Netzer Resort. Fairhaven’s peacefulness. Carbondale’s adventures. And so many more . . . . .
Our lives have been crazy chaos. Transition-full. We have not been stable. But we HAVE been secure. We have been knee-deep in grasses, arm-deep in almost-hairy leaves, head-deep in Son. Our fingers have been busy, our pails full. Our lips stained red with the juicy fruit . . . of gathered raspberries.
Who knew the vagabond life could be so good.