Sunday, July 02, 2006
Summer Has Truly Begun
I began the day by picking.
Raspberry, raspberry, RASPBERRIES!
This, the summer of 2006, is monumental in the amazing raspberry season that is underway. Past years, I've been lucky to pick a few red raspberries out of the backyard patch by the Fourth of July. I'm in week three of daily harvests of more than a cup. And they are luscious this year; thumb sized, firm yet juicy, and sweet sweet sweet. All that I've done to them this year is water. That, though, may be a wee bit tricky the next few days. The well's pump froze a few days back and the resurrection of the machine is underway, and thankfully not by me. They are certainly organic berries. I haven't even see the cats sneaking around to leave their deposits around the canes, dastardly felines that they are.
But, today, was the true sign of the bountiful harvest. JAM. Jars of deeply-colored raspberry jam with my badly scrawled handwriting on the well-sealed top. This might be the year to enter a jar in the Park County Fair.
I don't remember much of my grandmother's house in Sioux City, Iowa, but I had a rapid trip back there today. As I cooked the raspberries with all that white white white sugar as chicken baked in the oven of my humid, overheated kitchen, it reminded me of my grandmother's house; that very combination of smells with the heaviness of the air. A thunderstorm was rolling over from the west and I could have been in the house my mother was born on Rebecca Street.
As I feel the discomfort of the fine scratches on my arms from the berry picking out back, I think back to the thickness of Junes when we'd visit Iowa from our home in California. My retired grandfather would leave the house early in the morning, in boots and coveralls, to prowl the wild raspberries along the banks of the Missouri. He'd return, sunburned and exhausted, covered in these very scratches, as though he'd run into the wrong side of a pack of wild cats. I guess jam making is genetic.