The garden has always been a place of refuge, but it seems especially so this summer. To be able to walk out, unmasked, across the dew-laden grass in the early morning to pick raspberries is to know peace. The news alerts come by way of the blue jays hectoring a squirrel in the hemlocks. Though our social lives remain meager, never has nature seemed more bountiful. The tomato vines and espaliered pear trees droop with ripening fruit. Overnight, the tightly packed pale beige raspberry buds swelled and softened. About the size of gumdrops now, they fall off the branch with a gentle tug, leaving behind a small white tag — like a tongue sticking out. It’s hard not to start eating them on the way back to the house. There’s more than enough to share with the family of chipmunks that lives under the barn and the new brood of wild turkeys who swing past the bushes on their perambulations through the fields and woods. The smaller turkeys jump up and pull at the branches, making the bushes shake all over as if convulsed by laughter. Warm and sweet, the freshly picked berries taste of heat and lassitude and all the very different summers that have gone before.
The Raspberry Room
By Karin Gottshall
It was solid hedge, loops of bramble and thorny
as it had to be with its berries thick as bumblebees.
It drew blood just to get there, but I was queen
of that place, at ten, though the berries shook like fists
in the wind, daring anyone to come in. I was trying
so hard to love this world—real rooms too big and full
of worry to comfortably inhabit—but believing I was born
to live in that cloistered green bower: the raspberry patch
in the back acre of my grandparents’ orchard. I was cross-
stitched and beaded by its fat, dollmaker’s needles. The effort
of sliding under the heavy, spiked tangles that tore
my clothes and smeared me with juice was rewarded
with space, wholly mine, a kind of room out of
the crush of the bushes with a canopy of raspberry
dagger-leaves and a syrup of sun and birdsong.
Hours would pass in the loud buzz of it, blood
made it mine—the adventure of that red sting singing
down my calves, the place the scratches brought me to:
just space enough for a girl to lie down.