Raspberries

The spring my brother finally, completely killed the raspberry bushes with the lawnmower marked a turning point in my life.

Raspberries - geograph.org.uk - 506621

We never realize things like that at the time they are happening. When you are 13 or 15 or 17, the moments you think will be unerased scars involve lunchroom fights or high school breakups. (OK… sometimes those high school breakups haunt reminiscent dreams.) Fruit does not often take part in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure prompt.

Raspberries don’t grow in Texas, and the blackberries we have are not the delicate sweet type, but hulking tart masses that cannot be eaten from fingertips. A man recently stared blankly at my tattooed arm, demanding to know the fruit and not comprehending why the berries were indeed not black. I stared back, not comprehending why he didn’t recognize a fruit that I held so dear.

It feels strange for me, usually so focused on local foods and seasonality, to be writing about raspberries when most parts of the country have just begun to see blushing strawberries. And yet in my life, raspberries no longer have a season. It’s not just the ever-present reminder of my inked arm that has simultaneously pulled me closer and pushed me away from this tiny scrap of memory.

The longer we live in Texas the more I feel my Northern roots slipping away. Not wrenched out all at once, but attacked bit by bit, over the course of years, by strong blades.

We don’t get back up north as often as we’d like, and even the trips we do make are so blanketed by holidays and other obligations that we can hardly spend the time we want with the people we want. Never mind that my family is scattered now, each of us in a different state. “Going home” is fuzzy and strange for me, because I have no where to go in the city I lived for the first 18 years of my life. Every last scrap of that raspberry bush is gone.

I read lots of other blogs, and keep my eyes open on social media. I always feel like I am watching, waiting for something extraordinary to happen, that connects to my past in some inscrutable way that I must cling to. Try as I might, I have not yet been able to find it, neither through recipes using Wisconsin cheese nor sponsored tours to bratwurst country.

Because the raspberries are my story, no one else’s. Odd as it sometimes sounds, they are what led me to this current life of a wife, mother, Austinite, freelance writer, and full-time busy bee in an amazing editorial department.

I realized this when I was at the Foodways Texas symposium, a weekend dedicated to our desire and need to preserve food culture. The more people talked, the more I wished I had listened growing up, and my heart ached to think that there might be stories about my family forever forgotten.

This summer, we’re traveling back north on the pretense of vacation, for me to harvest stories from my relatives. To savor every last word, get them on tape, on paper, on film.

And maybe get a few raspberries.

3 Responses to Raspberries

  1. Barbara | Creative Culinary April 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    I’m sure your stories are there; hidden for some reason that a word, a memory, a photo will hopefully bring back to the foreground. It sounds like quite the journey, one that has nothing to do with distance or miles traveled but the search for memories…I wish for you a very good one.

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  2. Andrea D. April 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I am not one to comment on an article by a blogger unless it really strikes a chord with me. I live in Fredericksburg, TX now but am originally from Michigan. I feel like I loose my Northern roots, too. I have fruits that I miss too. I miss my cherries and blueberries. I miss going to Meijer and getting dried tart Michigan cherries and eating most of them in a week when I was growing up. I miss my mom showing me how blueberries grew on farms and being proud that we could grow them in Michigan.

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  3. Wendy May 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I find myself thinking kind of the same thing. I am from Texas, where you are raised thinking no state is greater. But here I am now in the North East and I find myself loosing those Southern roots. I wouldn’t say that they aren’t going willingly though…. As much as I love “home”, I am really loving the new home I have created with my family. Though I miss Tex-mex and bbq ;-)

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